Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barry Island Pleasure Park

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.


Barrie Evans said...

Everything you say about the park is top form. Take a look at my letter to the Barry & district news and the Gem which should be in Thursdays editions 10th Sept. It makes nonsense of Ian Rogers reasons and decision for the parks closure and his future plans for the site. I am backing this campaign to the highest level so that someone somewhere listens and stands up for tradition and that includes the geeks running The Vale Council,

Best of luck for a successful outcome/result,


Ian James Johnson said...

Thanks Barrie, and apologies for not replying for so long.

I believe there is a real need for a holistic look at the issues that affect Barry and that they should be dealt with proportionately and consensually so that we don't have the situation where decisions are made in isolation from each other and where no-one on the Vale Council can see the bigger picture.

Best wishes