Thursday, 28 January 2016

Shining a spotlight on our council

The rushed decision by Wrexham Council to demolish the old Groves school building without any public consultation is symptomatic of a council unable and unwilling to trust the people.
 Instead they rely on well-paid officers and outside consultants, who invariably come up with the wrong solutions to the wrong problems.
 The catalogue of mistakes is growing:
• Closing Plas Madoc Leisure Centre in the teeth of huge opposition, compounding the problem by refusing to provide even basic funding for the new community-run Splash Magic; this is despite a bid to loan £1m from the Welsh Government by the council to fund improvements to Waterworld before its transferred to a private trust. Yes, you read that right - the council would rather subsidise a private trust than give a penny to the volunteers running a community cooperative in Splash.

• Closing Nant Silyn care home at a time when private providers are opening up similar provision in the town. The council says these kinds of facilities aren't needed. Really?

• An Arts Hub being located in the People's Market at an estimated cost of £4.5m, despite little evidence that either the market or the arts hub would thrive in this hotch-potch scheme in what is still essentially a car park.

• The demolition of the Groves school building with just seven days' notice, without consulation, after an abrupt change of heart by the council. Council leaders now talk of building one or two new schools on the site but have not made a case for not retaining the original girls' school building, which has many iconic features and could be a part of any educational or artistic development on the site.

• Changes facing the Bodhyfryd site - currently housing the police HQ, Waterworld, the courts and Crown Buildings on Chester Street - present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalise the town centre and bring people into that part of town.
 The town desperately needs this as footfall has fallen 28% in the past five years - that's 40% more than the UK average. This site should see a flagship development and not more identikit housing.

Luckily there are a growing number of people who are getting organised to prevent the Council from Wrecking Wrexham.

Carrie Harper joins campaigners to oppose demolishing the Groves school building.

The latest twist in the Groves story is that councillors have challenged the Executive Board decision and it will now be scrutinised by a committee. Unfortunately the council's legal officer has vetoed televising the proceedings on the council's website - as Executive Board meetings are. The reasons given are pitiful:

 I understand that a request has been made through yourself to consider webcasting the Call In Meeting for the Groves next Wednesday.
I have spoken with my Committee Team and as you know there has been 10 hours committed to webcasting Scrutiny Meetings for the whole of the next year.  As yet we understand that the criteria for selection of meetings to be webcast has to be finalised and no layout or programming of the Web cameras and software has been undertaken and so it would be very difficult to operate a session on the hoof as it were.  Secondly, the public notice of this meeting has now been posted and because we did not know of this request in advance, it does not include the required warnings that the meeting will be webcast as we always do to warn the public before Council, Exec Board and Planning Committee.  Finally,  there is a Licensing meeting scheduled for immediately before the Call In meeting and it would not be feasible to undertake all the set up work between the time that Licensing Committee finishes and scrutiny begins even if there was an approved layout which as I said earlier there is not.Accordingly and regretfully, I do not think I can accede to this ad hoc request to webcast this meeting.  

The people of Wrexham deserve better than a council determined to operate behind closed doors. It needs a spotlight shining on its decisions.


Willis said...

Wrexham council are a pathetic bunch of underhanded cowards this meeting should be webcast it is a complete travesty what have they got to hide I wonder.

Rohelendus said...

The only thing 'ad hoc', is that teply from the 'council's legal officer. As for 'programming web cameras', that is total bullshit. It is not complicated and alos there are literally thousands of IT people in the area who could do that with ease if asked.

Rohelendus said...

The only thing 'ad hoc' is the reply from the council's 'legal officer'. As for 'programming' web cams,this is bullshit. There asre literally thousands of IT professionals in the Wrexham area who could do that in minutes.

Rohelendus said...

The only thing 'ad hoc', is that teply from the 'council's legal officer. As for 'programming web cameras', that is total bullshit. It is not complicated and alos there are literally thousands of IT people in the area who could do that with ease if asked.