AS LLANDUDNO pier begins to welcome visitors back its owner fears its future may be in jeopardy if the green light isn’t given to open its arcades, amusements and rides.
The attraction reopened to the public – with safety measures and social distancing in place – on Saturday, July 11.
Food outlets operated as takeout only but a ruling prevented Adam Williams, managing director of Tir Prince Leisure Group who owns Llandudno Pier, from opening its entertainment section and rides; Mr Williams was informed by Conwy County Borough Council Trading Standards that these elements fit in the funfair category and cannot open at this time. The same legislation applies to Tir Prince Fun Park in Towyn, also operated by the leisure group.
As a result, Mr Williams said the pier has opened but is operating as a loss due to not having ‘X, Y and Z’.
“Saturday was good. We had a good footfall and the weather was relatively kind to us but it was a bizarre experience to open the pier to the public again,” Mr Williams said.
“It was like opening it for the first time but the strange part of it that most of the businesses that we normally open weren’t open. The bits that actually keep the upkeep for the pier like the amusements and the rides etc.
“We are kind of opening at a loss but I feel we have to open the pier for the town, the area – to come back to life.
“We spend underneath every year roughly between £200,000 and £300,000. That is something people don’t even see.”
“Up above the boards you are looking at least £200,000 a year in upkeep on decking and painting.
“It is essential for the future of the pier to get these other bits open.
“Summer is vastly coming to an end and if we don’t, quite frankly, I don’t know what the future of Llandudno Pier is at that point.”
Adam Williams, Llandudno Pier boss
Mr Williams talked about potentially introducing an entry fee, but stressed ‘it was very early doors’.
“We have certainly looked at costs and we are looking at costs,” he added.
“We obviously don’t want to charge people. We are also thinking about donations, but is whether people will donate? Some people will, some won’t.
“It is very early doors and I think if we did charge, the maximum charge would be £1.
“Certain child ages would be free, probably NHS workers free and we would be looking at Llandudno postcodes that would be free.
“We are just looking, presently, at just opening the doors and breaking the ice.
“And working on damage limitation as we go.”
More than £20,000 has been spent on making sure Llandudno Pier is Covid safe.
“It is half a mile long, so it is pretty much its own high street,” Mr Williams said.
“People were isolating well on Saturday.
“We’ve have put a lot of measures in place and lots of sanitiser stations.
“You have just got to hope the general public adhere to the two-metre distancing.
“We can tell people and we can ask people and hope they do it, and we can monitor what we can, but then it obviously comes to a point of limiting numbers which would be another reason why we would have to have some kind of pay gate – to control the numbers on the pier.
‘It is half a mile long, so it is pretty much its own high street’, said Mr Williams about the pier
“Ultimately, the pier is half a mile long and capacity is huge.
“I am hoping that it is not going to be an issue but if you have got to start limiting numbers, then you have got to pay staff to limit the numbers.
“Then, because you are on such big numbers, you are talking about four to six staff on the gate controlling the numbers. Which is then a lot of money.”
“The sad thing about that is that any money that comes through the gate will probably pay their wages and that is it. It is sort of a catch 22.”
Mr Williams directly employs 100 at Llandudno and indirectly (on site) about 50 people.
Talking about how keen staff were to get back to work, Mr Williams said: “We need people to get back for their mental health
“I am lucky in one respect that I have got so much to think about and to control that it takes my mind off
“I would much prefer to be thinking about other things! But it is certainly keeping me mentally busy.”