A number of residents have contacted me sporadically to highlight concerns around Porthgain’s infrastructure and the impact of tourism. In an attempt to address any issues fairly, and based on resident feedback, I ran a survey during April/May 2021, to enable me to collate the common themes for further consideration and action. This was run on Microsoft Forms and advertised on my Councillor Facebook page and through my community newsletter. You can read the results below.
Introductory text for survey
What’s it all about?
I’m seeking people’s views on what we can do to improve Porthgain for residents, businesses and visitors.
How am I doing it?
Via a short online survey, but people can also contact me directly if they prefer. They can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07834 093181.
What will I do with the results?
Identify the common themes and suggestions, and present these back in a report to those who have taken part, Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority to see what, if any action can be taken. All survey responses and contributions will be kept anonymous.
The survey ran from late April to Early May 2021 and there were a total of 52 responses, completed by:
- 25 Porthgain residents (of which 5 were also business owners/employees)
- 21 resident within local area (of which 1 was a business owner/employee)
- 5 second home owners
- 1 visitor / tourist
- 39 respondents wished to be kept informed of progress.
The survey questions were designed to discover:
- What do you love about Porthgain?
- What would make Porthgain better? Up to 3 answers
- Do you have any practical suggestions that can be considered?
How I have analysed the responses
This was not a yes/no or ‘on a scale of 1-10’ type survey, but rather prompted by simple questions that allowed respondents to reply with free text. In analysing the responses, I have tried to group them into themes and where possible, show the number of times something was referenced.
As there was a natural progression from the question ‘what would make Porthgain better’ to ‘do you have any practical suggestions’, I’ve grouped these two together under the heading of ‘What would make Porthgain better’.
This survey is not an exact science, but I’ve been thorough and extracted what I can to prompt a productive further conversation with the local community and the relevant Authorities. Any mistakes or omissions are my own.
What do you love about Porthgain?
As a starting question, it revealed what we already know, but also produced some great insights that have been captured in some of the comments below:
“Having been brought up in Porthgain, the village is a special place for me on a personal and sentimental level. Although in recent times, many homes have been bought as second homes and holiday lets, the village has retained its local community spirit.”
“I enjoy the walks, the harbour and feel very fortunate to live in such a special place”
“Porthgain is home and always will be”
“Everything, except the parking!”
“Its community which includes many regular holiday home owners”
“As the owner of a commercial fishing boat fishing from Porthgain I love the ease of access to the water for my boat and proximity to the fishing grounds.”
“It’s unique! Not quaint or manicured, as it still retains much of its old character. Out of season, it is an idyllic place in every respect. The harbour and the views, the people, the pub and the Shed – but the summer crowds plus cars and camper vans, although inevitable, are obviously a big negative.”
“The fact that it’s still a community… just.”
“Access to coast, vibrant with lots of visitors, good atmosphere, history, wildlife.”
What this question revealed is that this is about a close-knit village community that supports and loves its local businesses, that swings from a quiet and tranquil place over the winter to a buzzing hotspot over the summer, with the constant being the local people and characters, and a spectacular coastline set against an industrial past. As one respondent said “It’s a magical place”.
What would make Porthgain better?
This is the most telling part of the survey, and there were a number of wide ranging issues identified affecting Porthgain, which can be categorised into three themes:
Theme 1: Parking & traffic management
This was by far the most common theme, with 41 respondents listing it as an issue. Broken down further, more specific concerns / suggestions were as follows (with the number of references)
- Parking outside the village / overflow car park (17)
- Paying for parking (8)
- Park and ride / improved public transport (6)
- Less parking provision / limit parking availability when busy (3)
- Enforcement (2)
- Resident only parking permits / designated spaces (12)
- Disabled parking (6)
- Designated parking / signage for access to slipway (6)
- One way system through the village (7)
- Lower the speed limit / speed bumps (7)
- Improved signage (12) – note: there’s a cross over here with better signage in general, not just parking, and especially for the slipway
- Safety, specifically for emergency services access and parking on the quay
- Overnight camping / campervans – 2 respondents in favour of overnight camping / campervans, 8 against
- Double yellow lines – 8 for, 1 against.
Possible ideas to explore and other comments included:
- potential locations for out of village parking;
- a suggestion that if parking was charged for that the funds could go back into the community;
- an idea for traffic management so that if the village was full, visitors could be informed at Llanrhian crossroads;
- a car free lower village;
- a few negative comments about the impact of charging at Abereiddi and the management of the car park there;
- A very helpful suggestion to include the RNLI in discussions, especially around best practice for noticeboards for the slipway and safe enjoyment of the sea.
Theme 2: Porthgain as a place to live & sustainable tourism
The theme of Porthgain as a permanent place to live and as a place to visit seemed to fit together, and came up 17 times under ‘respect for residents’, ‘sustainable tourism’ and a desire for Porthgain to ‘not become a retirement village or a place dominated by second homes’, but a place with ‘more permanent residents’ and one that considers housing needs.
Some of the comments that illustrate this theme are:
“Respect and consideration towards residents”
“The village does seem unable to cope at times with the number of visitors; there is the need to balance accessibility for all, whether local or visiting, with the wider principle of not ruining it completely.”
“There needs to be policies by the authorities which address the needs of the local community as opposed to promoting Porthgain to visitors and holidaymakers.”
“More consideration from visitors that they are visiting our home, particularly around parking in unsuitable places & litter.”
The overall sentiment here was of a community that accepts and welcomes visitors and second home owners (mostly) but that it is at a point where there is a fear that the balance will tip. There is undoubtedly some community tension. As one resident said:
“We live in hope that the village will have permanent residents living there in the future, and won’t develop into a village full of holiday homes.”
One resident has summed up many of the issues neatly in the statement below:
“The volume of tourists has been steadily increasing over the years gradually ratcheting up the pressure on the village and those who live there or run their businesses there. Last year the pandemic resulted in a step-change in the number of tourists and vehicles, exacerbating the problems that were already brewing. I understand that the National Park want to maintain the unspoilt, undeveloped nature of the village, but I believe there are issues that need to addressed as a matter of urgency.”
There were also a few comments made encouraging Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Pembrokeshire County Council to work more closely together to support Porthgain’s residents and businesses.
Theme 3: Porthgain’s assets and services:
Under this broad theme, the following were raised:
- Bins – more of them, including recycling bins (11)
- Better seating and use of seating areas (5)
- Better facilities for children (including a play park) (2)
- Better use of the tunnels / sorting the lighting for more dark skies (3)
- Better use of Ty Mawr (3)
- Better signage to explain Porthgain’s history / visitor info (4)
- Cut the grass more often (6)
- Sorting out the sewerage (4)
- Sorting out dog fouling! (2)
- Improved mobile phone coverage (1)
- More community involvement in the upkeep of Porthgain (1)
In addition, there is much love for the Shed, Sloop and Harbour Lights gallery from Porthgain and other local residents. These are seen as real assets to the village.
Whilst nearly all respondents had suggestions for improving the village, there were a couple of respondents who said: “Don’t change anything!”
This is intended to be the start of a conversation that will see some positive change for Porthgain, and I’m grateful to all who took the time to complete the survey. What this gives us is well informed community opinion that can help shape future engagement between the relevant authorities and Porthgain residents.
I will now share this with senior officers at Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, and Visit Pembrokeshire as a starting point, and ask for an initial response.
I would also like to explore setting up some kind of ‘resident’s forum’ where a few people can join me in progressing ideas where possible. I appreciate that this has been considered in the past, but I do think there is some merit in revisiting this to see if we can establish a cross-section of representation for the village. If you’re interested in this please let me know. I’d like to see this (small) group working alongside me and the authorities to create an action plan. (Update 27th June – this working group has been established)
I will continue to communicate progress, and welcome any further views or opinions.
A copy of the report is available for download below: