We’re very forward looking in Bethesda – I think.
Several years ago there was a plan to regenerate the village. The main A5 comes curving through the village as the High Street, and the shops, which are mainly four storeys high, form pretty much an unbroken wall for its full length.
So the radical plan was to demolish a couple of shops on the river side of the street to provide access to a new car park, and to flatten land for a second car park above the higher side. Now the lower car park, which is more or less on a level with the road, is permanently full and the higher one is permanently empty because it involves a 30 second ascent of steps to get back to the car – a ludicrous demand to place on a driver.
At the same time a couple of other shops on the higher side of the road were demolished to form what was described as a “Town Square”. This was to contain an “attraction” which would pull tourists into the village like a magnet where they would park in the car parks and spend money in the shops.
Then, I think, the funding ran out. (The whole economy here is built on grants. Nothing happens until a grant becomes available. The grants are never big enough to cover the whole scheme so the application contains an “exit strategy” which is usually the ability to attract further funding from a different source, the scheme having acquired credibility by having being funded in the first place. The landscape is littered with Phase Ones.)
Periodically the council would argue about what attraction the Town Square (which is only the width of two demolished shops) should contain. For a period one councillor strongly argued for a sort of mini Welsh Disneyland based on the characters of one of S4C’s children’s television series. Then all would go quiet again.
Some months back, out of the blue, one of our customers asked if I would sign a petition form to say that if funding, for what was now being called a “Stage”, was forthcoming, we would consider having a bread-stall if or when a Saturday market was ever held there. So I did.
I think it’s finished now.