The fairground on Barry Island is, apart from the glorious sandy beach, the biggest asset as a tourist attraction that Barry has.
However, the fairground as we know it is under threat.
Since being founded at the end of July, the save Barry Island Pleasure Park Facebook site has gained more than 16,000 members claiming that it will be closing at the end of the Summer.
I’m not sure of the exact truth of that – such rumours have surfaced on a regular basis over the years, but there is a planning application for a mixed development on the site, including a 25-storey high-rise apartment block.
Speaking to Barry-based journalists earlier this week, they tell me that the fairground owner says that the pleasure park in its current state is economically unsustainable. Perhaps that’s true.
But, equally, with similar housing projects being abandoned due to an obvious saturation of the market with one and two bedroom apartments, how is it that a very large empty eyesore casting a shadow across the Island will be any better – either for the owner or for Barry?
Tourism in Barry must meet the needs of the modern tourist. With the old Butlins/Majestic camp gone, Barry Island is an outdoor location with little to offer if the weather turns sour – great on balmy Summer days, miserable on wet weekends.
There is a need for development, but, like so much of Barry, the area sadly lacks an economic action plan that should link future developments on the Island with what is planned on the Waterfront.
The Vale Council should work quickly to bring together stakeholders on the Island – the fairground owners, other local businesses, Barry residents groups, Welsh tourism authorities, outside developers and financiers – so that we can build a Barry Island for the future, bringing people to the town all year round.
Thousands of people on Facebook have shown their nostalgia for the Barry Island that was, but together we need to build the Barry Island that will be.