Colwyn Bay pier: Ownership 'needs to be resolved'
- 19 August 2011
- From the section North West Wales
Confusion surrounds who now owns the grade II-listed historic pier in Colwyn Bay.
It has been closed since its owner was made bankrupt in July 2008, and it came under the control of a trustee in bankruptcy.
The trustee has now formally given up any interest in the pier because its condition is getting worse.
The pier's former owner, Steve Hunt, said he believed the pier should now come back to him.
Victoria Pier was opened in June 1900, and over the years has hosted performances from artists as diverse as Morecambe and Wise, Harry Secombe and Elvis Costello.
But very little maintenance has been done in the last three years since Mr Hunt was made bankrupt in a dispute with Conwy council over unpaid business rates and council tax.
On 4 August 2011, a panel of the decking broke off and fell onto the promenade.
The council warned in a letter the next day that other sections of the pier needed to be inspected urgently, and that dangerous decking and railings had to be removed.
Solicitors for the trustee in bankruptcy say this means he has disclaimed the pier, a technical term for giving up any interest or control over the structure.
In a letter, seen by BBC Wales News, the solicitors say: "It has come to the attention of our client that part of the structure of the pier has collapsed, and fallen on a public thoroughfare.
"Obviously this has raised concerns of the potential risk to the public. The bankruptcy estate is not in funds, and so [there is no money available for] repairs to the pier.
"Our client, as trustee in bankruptcy, is mindful of the fact that he is potentially personally liable in circumstances where, for example, any individual is injured as a result of any structural defect in the pier.
"Having undertaken a risk analysis he has taken the decision to disclaim his interest in the pier pursuant to section 315 of the Insolvency Act 1986."
Mr Hunt said the trustees' solicitors had told him that the pier would now pass to the UK government's Treasury solicitor under a system known as bona vacantia.
He said: "The ownership needs to be resolved urgently. I'm talking to my solicitors to work out the legal position.
"I'd be happy to have the pier back because everyone just wants to see it restored. There's money potentially available in grants, but we need to move fast to get it. If it does come back to me I'd be committed to seeing the restoration take place."
Conservative MP David Jones, who represents Clwyd West, said he found it odd that the trustee should disclaim the pier now, when a full survey report had been done, giving detailed information about the state of the pier.
He said: "My biggest concern is that we have a structure on the seafront which is disfiguring the town, and I hope that Conwy County Borough Council will now work with Steve Hunt to get something done.
"I'm personally willing to do everything I can to do something about it."