Businesses in the Bay of Colwyn are being invited to bid for a share of £120,000 pot of cash to improve their local areas.
Colwyn Business Improvement District (BID) is making the money available for projects that will make the region more attractive, bring in extra shoppers and visitors, or enable companies to work more effectively.
The not-for-profit social enterprise is run by the business communities in Colwyn Bay, Rhos-on-Sea, Old Colwyn and Mochdre. Firms pay a levy and the cash raised is used for projects to boost trade.
Suggestions so far include a performance space and a selfie-spot on Rhos promenade plus improvements to dilapidated areas, new flower planters and recycling bins in Old Colwyn, seating and bike racks in Mochdre, and general improvements to the shopping streets of Colwyn Bay.
Up to £30,000 is available in each of the four communities and BID project manager Anna Openshaw is keen that companies in the towns meet to discuss what they want, before the BID board allocates funds.
She said: “It is vital that every business person has a say in what they would like to see in their local area. Their voice is important – whether they run a shop, a company that’s off the main streets or a small enterprise, we want to hear from them.
“It may be a project to improve shop fronts, pavements or open spaces so their local area looks presentable and tidy. Or it could be to provide more parking, so customers can easily pop into a business – we know that easy access is important.
“The BID’s objective is to improve leisure facilities and public amenities that support and increase the attractiveness of each community, encourages more visitors and builds the profile and identity of the four towns.
“Our role is to provide a collective voice for the business community and to support business networks to encourage local trading opportunities and attract additional business investment in the area.
“So we are encouraging more people to shop locally and to bring in visitors from outside the area to shop, visit and do business. That means it’s important the four towns each look their very best.
“We already have programmes in hand, such as partnering with the police to prevent and tackle anti-social behaviour and crime, plus other projects that seek to improve street frontages, signage and IT links.
“Other schemes that are already underway include painting railings in Old Colwyn and Rhos and employing a worker to carry out small jobs to keep the area clean and tidy, as well as more new signs for Mochdre Industrial Estates so customers can easily pinpoint the location of companies.
“We’ve also installed large hanging baskets that double up as stands for Christmas trees, to make the main streets more attractive to shoppers.”
Jo Carpenter at health food shop The Natural Choice in Rhos-on-Sea believes that the resort would benefit from a covered performance area on the promenade.
She said: “Each of the four towns have different needs to help bring in more visitors.
“We know that here in Rhos people love to stroll along the prom, enjoying the views out over the harbour and the bay, or having fun on the sand, before they pop into one of our many independent stores and cafes.
“We want to use the money to create something that’s different, which will encourage people to visit and spend time here, and which will make people remember Rhos, with affection.
“A performance space, covered perhaps with a sail to highlight the town’s links with the sea, would be ideal. It could be used both during the day and evenings by traditional brass bands through to local choirs, harpists, string ensembles or young performers doing an acoustic set.
“In addition, we have discussed creating a selfie-spot, showing people the very best place on the prom to take a photo, and with something that will remind them about Rhos, when they share it over social media . It’s a great and simple way to market Rhos.”
Richard Poynton, who runs his family butcher’s shop in Abergele Road, Old Colwyn, is working with the local residents’ association and councillors to gather ideas for improvements.
He said: “Simple ideas can make a big difference – such as painting railings in the village, or new flower planters and seating areas. Plus I’d like to see more recycling bins in Old Colwyn, so people don’t just throw all the rubbish into one bin.
“The benefit of being a butcher and having my own shop is that I can chat to customers, new and old, about what they would like to see done in Old Colwyn, such as more signs welcoming people to the village when they drive through, so they know it’s a community in its own right.”
James Hastings of Pritchett and Co Chartered Accountants in Colwyn Bay, believes that the strength of BID is the business community working together.
“This is a real chance for businesses to put forward their ideas on what they want to see. Everybody has their own views on what will bring more shoppers and business customers into the town.
“This is their chance to let the BID board know what will help them to grow as a business and also benefit the community.
“There is a lot going on in Colwyn Bay, with new opportunities all the time. By working together we can ensure that everybody can benefit.”
In Mochdre suggestions for improvements so far include new seating and a bike rack near the village parade of shops.
Be My Bear co-founder Pippa Thomas is also keen to see more help to tempt shoppers and business customers into Mochdre Business Park, where she has a shop and warehouse for her company, which supplies no-sew takeaway teddy bear kits to make at home or to be stuffed in store.
She said: “I know that the BID team is progressing with plans to install new signs at the entrance to the business park, which is an excellent idea.
“We need to highlight what’s on offer so people don’t just drive past but instead are tempted in. It’s important that, once they enter the business park, they can find their way around the different zones easily with maps to signpost where to find a company.”