Carrie, who is the Party of Wales candidate for Wrexham in May’s Assembly elections, said:
“Leaked documents reveal that the council is not being open with local businesses, market traders or the wider community. There is a need for an arts centre in the town and the examples we’ve seen of voluntary grassroots hubs such as Undegun and Galeri 3B in empty shops have been a welcome boost for the town’s cultural life. Wrexham can also take great pride in its annual Focus Wales music festival.
“But doubts remain as to whether spending more than £4 million on converting parts of the People's Market and adjoining car park into an arts hub is the best way forward. It appears to be more of an attempt to make use of an existing building rather than creative thinking and providing the best location for the arts to thrive.
“The council has recently closed libraries, community centres and Plas Madoc Leisure Centre due to an alleged lack of funding. Yet it is now planning to spend an £1.5m on this project - in addition to £3m funding from the Arts Council and Welsh Government - as well as making a projected £390,000 loss in the first three years.
"On top of that there is an unknown amount to maintain it and the council also intends to relinquish control of the building and car park to a new trust. The leaked documents show plans to increase car parking charges to fund the arts centre at a time when local businesses are calling for lower charges to help regenerate the town centre.
"It’s an increasingly bizarre approach that’s taking place behind closed doors without properly involving those most directly affected – the market traders, people involved with the arts and the wider community.
“Any new centre has to feel ‘owned’ by the people if it is to work. These secret deals with, as yet, unnamed trusts do nothing to improve the council’s reputation as an authority that doesn’t listen when it consults and would rather trust consultants than the people. We’ve seen it with City Status and Splash Magic. Let’s not repeat those mistakes and make sure any new arts centre is for the people to take ownership of rather than a vehicle to get rid of the market traders.
“Our markets give our town centre a distinctive feeling. We should be building on that distinctiveness by developing a creative arts hub rather than trying to squeeze both together. I've lived in Wrexham all my life and desperately want to see the town centre rejuvenated. I hope councillors scrutinising this plan on Wednesday will ask the right questions of officers to ensure that happens.”
Caption: Proposed exterior of Oriel Wrecsam/People's Market...
complete with cows on the roof.