Wednesday, 22 November 2017
The future of the Groves is back on the agenda
The council had initially planned to demolish the building but it was listed by CADW in 2016. Since then, councillors have had contradictory information about the plans for its future use by the council leadership.
At the September Executive Board meeting, councillors were told that the Groves was 'surplus to educational requirements'. However this view had changed by the October Executive Board meeting, where the lead member for Education, Cllr Phil Wynn, said the site was now not surplus to educational requirements.
To try to clarify the situation, Cllr Carrie Harper took the matter of the site's future to the scrutiny committee to push for an options appraisal.
She said: "This topic is of great public interest and I'm glad that the scrutiny committee agreed to include it on their work programme. We don't have a clear picture in terms of the council leadership's plans for the building and site. We need further clarity in terms of how they plan to move the situation forward. It's also important that other members can input their thoughts and ideas, as well as scrutinising the decision-making process to date.
"Whatever your view on The Groves, surely everyone can agree that we need to move forward and bring this key town-centre building and site back into use. It's been in limbo for far too long as it is and we need a firm foundation to explore all the future options. That process should take place openly, through public meetings at scrutiny.
"I'm also hoping the committee will consider the potential of using outside funding for a future options appraisal. I'm aware that the Save Our Heritage group, which campaigned to save the building, has offered to explore getting outside funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund for an options appraisal.
"So far the council leadership has dismissed this offer out of hand but, at a time when the council is having to make cuts to services and staff, I can't understand the rationale for not exploring this further. If local residents, groups and others want to input, why not let them?"
The committee agreed to accept the request and report back on a suitable date at its next meeting. It's expected the topic will be debated by the committee early next year.