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Traders' joy as hostels win reprieve from closure.

Byline: Eryl Crump

TWO North Wales youth hostels threatened with closure were given a reprieve yesterday.

Last month the Youth Hostel Association revealed the 52-bed Capel Curig building, and another at Llanbedr, near Barmouth, were on a hit list of 20 hostels being considered for closure across Britain.

But an award of pounds 300,000 of public money from the Wales Tourist Board and local authorities, as well as money from members, led to yesterday's decision not to axe any youth hostels in Wales.

Ten hostels, all in England, will be closed and sold after the summer season in a bid to cut costs and raise funds.

Chris Jones, of Pinnacle Stores, which sells outdoor equipment and operates a cafe in Capel Curig, said the decision was "brilliant" and would help the village recover from its foot-and-mouth woes.

Shopkeepers in Capel Curig had feared the worst after the YHA revealed plans to open a modern 53-bed youth hostel just two-and-ahalf miles away at the Swallow Falls complex, Betws y Coed.

Mr Jones said: "The youth hostel is a focal point for the village.

It's one of the oldest in the YHA and is very popular and we couldn't understand why they were thinking of closing it. The news that its not closing is brilliant."

Llanbedr sub-postmaster Roger Thomas said: "Excellent. The closure, had it happened, would have affected us because the hostel always seems full, during peak months, with school parties, family groups and overseas students."

YHA Chairman Chris Boulton said the news to close just 10 hostels was better than expected.

He said: "Help from our members and assistance from public funds, together with the savings we were able to make, have limited the number of Youth Hostels affected to 10. Taking this action now will safeguard our ability to continue with necessary investments and plans for the future."

The closure threat to Capel Curig hostel followed the sell-off of the Dolwyddelan hostel last autumn.

In recent years hostels at Colwyn Bay and Penmaenmawr have also shut, although a new 90-bed "super hostel" was opened at Conwy two years ago.

Talks are also under way with Anglesey Council to open a 24-bed hostel at the Holyhead Country Park this summer and Mark Farmer, director of YHA Wales, said the rest of the North Wales hostel network was being revamped using the pounds 300,000 of assistance from the Wales Tourist Board and local authorities.

Refurbishments are ongoing or planned at YHA's Idwal Cottage, Pen y Pass, Llangollen and Bryn Gwynant hostels. Work on the new hostel at Betws y Coed is at the planning stage and it is expected to open next year.

CAPTION(S):

STAYING OPEN: The 52-bed Capel Curig youth hostel
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 14, 2002
Words:454
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