Protesters want more for Aberavon Beach

9 May 2011

Port Talbot protesters on the march. Photo: Lucy Fitzpatrick

Port Talbot residents gathered at Aberavon Beach on Sunday May 8 to hold a peaceful protest about the lack of leisure facilities provided on the Aberavon seafront.

With emotion still running high in the town following The Passion, which saw thousands flock to the seafront over the Easter weekend, the group set off on their march at 11am intent on seeing Aberavon Beach restored to its former glory, and becoming a prime tourist attraction in South Wales.

Keith Suter, founder of the ‘Defend Aberavon Beach’ group, which originated on Facebook and which currently has 1,489 members, explained what the protesters’ aims were: “We want to see more buildings along the beach that visitors can use, and which will ultimately attract more business investment.
“On the whole of the prom there are currently only two buildings, which the general public can access. It is such a waste of land. We want NPT county borough council stop allowing private businesses to build along the promenade and wasting precious land, which could be utilised to attract more tourism to the beach. We should be trying to generate more visitors, not turn them away.
“Look at the thousands of people who came to the beach for The Passion. It just reinforces the group’s message: ‘Build and they will come’.”

Dougie Portwood, from Ty Morfa Rd, aired his frustration at the absence of basic facilities at the lower end of the beach. A keen kite-surfer, Aberavon Beach was one of the main reasons he and wife Jenny moved to the town from Reading in 2005.

“There is something magical about this beach”, he said.
“You can’t beat if for water sports. You only have to look up and down the beach every day and you will see people surfing, kite surfing and kayaking. Yet, at this end of the beach, there isn’t even anywhere visitors can change out of a wetsuit or grab a quick refreshment. Instead, you have private business and a car park full of rubbish, where there could be a small toilet block and changing room and a small shop even.”

The drained paddling pool. Photo: Lucy Fitzpatrick

As the group made their way past the skateboard ramps, mum Paula Lewis, from Scarlet Avenue commented: “There is nothing down on the beach; not even a park for the smaller children. It is shameful. You shouldn’t have to traipse half way along the beach to use the one set of toilets with babies in pushchairs. It’s not good enough. We have a lovely beach but only a third of it is being used at the moment. Why can’t we have more toilets, a park, and a little crazy golf course perhaps? A little shop, where you can buy a bottle of water, a bucket and spade or even rent a deckchair? The beach is not user friendly for elderly people, who would love to come here.”
With boarded up and vandalised buildings aligning the seafront and the paddling pool drained and shut throughout the Easter holidays, these Port Talbot protesters are frustrated that their complaints and their questions have so far been unanswered.

Grandmother of seven, Joan Targett, from Golden Avenue, who was there with her husband and her two youngest boys, said: “Take my family as an example. I have seven children and seven grandchildren.
“That is 16 people who could be using this beach and spending money here if there was more on offer. We should be bringing revenue into the town.
“Why is private business being allowed to build on a beautiful expanse of land? “Neath Port Talbot council is ignoring the pleas of residents. There should be more consultation between the council taxpayers and those who make the decisions on what is allowed to be built on the seafront. Surely we should have a say?”

Daniel Morgan, a full time student from Afandale, concluded: “You look at your parents’ old photos of the beach, when they came here when they were young and you listen to their stories of how people would come from all over the valleys, catching a train to Port Talbot station to make their way to the beach. There were even fairground attractions at the bottom. That would never happen now.”

• PortTalbotMagnet has asked NPT Council for a response on this issue and will print it when it arrives.

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Joan Targett says:

It is fantastic to see the issue in print.

The fact that the NPT council do not follow the needs & desires of thier tax payers just shows that consultation is not high on thier agenda. Well done DAB for keeping the cause going.

There are billions of £’s being pumped into the new road let’s hope the developments dont just end there. Sad too see the need for a new court building, sign of the times or land wanted for development ?

Keith Suter says:

I couldn’t agree more this whole town needs to wake up to the lack of entertainment anywhere in Port Talbot, That’s why people leave in droves to go to Swansea on the weekends and the Gower if the sun is shinning because they want to get away from the boredom here.

MF says:

I remember visiting the beach as a youngster. Now that I don’t live in Port Talbot permanently, when I do come home to visit its very disappointing to see the beachfront becoming more and more run down. The area could become more profitable if some investment was made in the short-term to benefit the leisure and tourism trade in the long-term. Save Aberavon Beach!

Lynne says:

I was born and grew up in Chrome Ave and the beach was a daily part of my life for 20 years. Even now when I come home, even if it’s just for a day or so, I have to go down there. It looked so beautiful earlier this month. I was there at sunset and there were people fishing on the prom steps at high tide, people walking with salty bags of chips, Cafe Remo’s packed to the gills… but that was still a small amount of people who were appreciating the astounding views and atmosphere the prom offers on a night like that. A big glass fronted family restaurant/bar overlooking the beach would be filled to the scuppers every evening I’m sure. Who wouldn’t want to watch the sea here, at high tide or low tide, winter and summer, calm or wild weather?

Paul Turner says:

I was born & bred here. Spent best part of 20 years living on what was affectionatley called The Little Warren (Dylan Crescent with Sitwell Way and Darwin Road either side) and fondly remember the beach. Dotted along the seafront, with music and announcements for lost children coming from the tannoy system, were the double ended kiosks that sold juice, crisps, buckets & spades for the beach, hot food, everything you needed for a day out. There were stacks (and I mean stacks!) of deckchairs and windbreaks for hire along the promenade, a boating pool, paddling pool, flower gardens, Uncle Bryn’s bandstand, Day’s fair, Miami Beach funfair, every car park was FULL (especially the one behind the fair) of double-decker buses and coaches, along with the horses and donkey rides along the sands. When I read the stories in this article of peoples’ current experiences, I get saddened and depressed. Another sign of the demise of the UK….