A leading businessman has pledged to give smaller firms a bigger voice in plans to revitalise the Colwyn area.
Jeweller Greg Narey was speaking after being elected chairman of the Colwyn Business Improvement District (BID) – the biggest in the UK – which includes Old Colwyn, Colwyn Bay, Mochdre and Rhos-on-Sea.
The new vice chairman is Syd Gaskin who has run family firm Gaskins Carpets and Beds on Mochdre Business Park for the past 20 years.
Mr Narey said he would be working with the other board members on plans to bring in more shoppers, visitors and investment to the area.
The BID is a not-for-profit social enterprise where firms pay a levy and the cash raised is used for projects to increase trade.
Mr Narey runs a chain of jewellery shops which has branches in Colwyn Bay, Rhos-on-Sea, Llandudno and Bangor.
He said: “North Wales has been good for business over the past 30 years. It’s a good place to do business and I would like to see the Colwyn area continue to be a good place to do business, even though it’s in a state of decline at the moment.
“I would like to see the smaller businesses represented by the BID rather than the large projects. Conwy Council seems to focus on major projects whereas the BID I feel is more in tune with smaller business.
“SMEs and small businesses are the backbone of the economy here and I have a number of ideas that I will be putting to the board of the BID.
“The first thing would be to make sure that all rate and levy payers who are involved in the BID get full information.”
It was a sentiment echoed by John Sawyer, the manager of the Colwyn Bay branch, Colwyn Jewellers, in Station Road.
Among the initiatives Mr Sawyer would like to see is opening up the pedestrianised Station Road to traffic once again.
Mr Sawyer said: “We need to open Station Road so shoppers can park, even if it was only for half an hour.
“Increasing footfall is definitely a priority. I love it here because the people are really nice – we just need more of them.
“We also need to attract more tourists. Things like Access All Eirias with big name stars like Bryan Adams have helped put Colwyn Bay on the map. But we need to do more.”
BID manager Anna Openshaw added: “Our targets are to create opportunities for smaller businesses, to develop the profile of the seaside and leisure offer in the Bay of Colwyn, to highlight the key businesses which are destinations in their own right as well as creating an experience that is unique and distinctively ‘the Bay of Colwyn’.
“The BID is aiming to increase footfall, with more people shopping locally, to increase sales especially for those hidden from view, highlight attract more visitors with higher occupancy levels in hotels and guest houses, to create a bigger online presence for the area and ensure more apprenticeships are being offered by companies. The BID team is also working towards a drop in anti-social behaviour and crime, plus improving street frontages, signage and IT links.”