A SOCIAL enterprise is the driving force behind a sensational new stage at this year’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
And Colwyn BID (Business Improvement District) leaders are confident it will have a positive impact on the coastal economy, bringing thousands of visitors to the resort and raising its profile across the UK and internationally.
The two-mile speed test takes place on the promenade and is a dramatic addition to Wales Rally GB, making its debut on the evening of Saturday October 5.
Colwyn BID has funded the stage, with support from the town council and Conwy County Borough Council.
Cheryl Williams, Colwyn BID Manager, says the stage will attract tourists, as well as increasing spend in the community.
“We are delighted to be in partnership the WRC and for Colwyn Bay to play its part in supporting one of the highlights of the North Wales calendar,” said Cheryl.
“The Bay of Colwyn already hosts some of the top events in the region – including Access all Eirias, the Forties Festival and Pirate Weekend – so this is another opportunity to showcase what we have to offer.
“The speed test will be incredibly exciting, and the promenade itself is the perfect setting. There will also be a programme of entertainment and activities, so there’s something for everyone.”
The seafront has undergone a multi-million pound redevelopment in recent years, including a water sports centre, the demolition of the pier and the opening of Porth Eirias Bistro, run by esteemed North Wales chef, Bryn Williams.
But it has never witnessed anything like this; the sight and sound of turbocharged cars, equipped with high-tech four-wheel-drive systems and driven by the world’s most versatile drivers.
Hugh Chambers, Chief Executive of Motorsport UK, organiser and promoter of Wales Rally GB, said the astonishing pace and precision of the latest generation of WRC vehicles will provide a memorable experience for visitors, businesses and residents.
“The Saturday evening seafront spectacular will be different from anything Colwyn Bay has seen before; and a real contrast to the forests of rural Wales where most of the rally action takes place,” he said.
“Part of what we are doing with this year’s rally is to bring the raw excitement of the sport to places where many more fans can enjoy this excitement. Hopefully a good number of those gripped by what they experience in Colwyn Bay will then venture out to the forests to view world championship rallying in the wilds of Wales.”
The WRC partnership is just one of many contributions Colwyn BID has made toward the economy since being created in 2016.
The social enterprise – which is funded by business owners in Colwyn Bay, Rhos-on-Sea, Mochdre and Old Colwyn – has launched a discount bus deal for local workers, paid for shop signage, organised events and competitions and helped community groups, schools and charities regenerate dilapidated areas, amongst many other schemes, with more to be announced in the coming weeks.
They also founded a pilot project with Crest Cooperative to fund two positions for unemployed people, who carried out maintenance and clean-up projects in the area, and a radio campaign with Heart FM to highlight the services and activity of local businesses.
Outgoing Mayor Cllr Stephen Williams, who attended the launch of the new rally stage, says the future looks bright for the Bay of Colwyn.
“I hope this event will not only help bring motorsport to a whole new audience of local people but bring a substantial number of visitors into the town,” said Cllr Williams.
“The town council is looking forward to working with Motorsport UK to ensure that there is a wide range of activities to support the event and hopes that local businesses, with support from Colwyn BID, will embrace this opportunity to reach a new audience and maximise the economic benefit to the town.”
Cheryl was in agreement, and added: “This is a huge platform for the Bay of Colwyn, an opportunity to capitalise on a major increase in footfall and interest around one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
“We encourage people to book their place as soon as possible so they don’t miss out on this incredible occasion.
“Finally, I would like to thank the businesses for their continued support and look forward to working even closer together to bring further prosperity to the area.”