A proposal for Wrexham Council to give £50,000 to help keep the Wrexham’s Citizen Advice service running has been deferred without discussion to a future Executive Board meeting for their consideration.
A Notice Of Motion was submitted ahead of the Full Council meeting this week asking for a £50,000 grant and a review Wrexham’s CAB’s viability needs.
Previously in 2015 the Executive Board had decided to ‘phase out the CAB core funding over a 2 year period’.
Councillors we had spoken to were expecting a lively debate on the topic, however it was not to be due to how such a motion containing finances is handled.
The Mayor Andy Williams handed over to the Legal Officer who referred to the Council’s Standing Orders (around page 151 of this PDF containing the Council’s Constitution) specifically a paragraph that reads: “If the subject matter of any motion of which notice has been duly given comes within the province of any Committee or Committees it shall, upon being moved and seconded, stand referred without discussion to such Committee or Committees, or to such other Committee or Committees as the Council may determine, for consideration and report.”
The Legal Officer advised the meeting that the subject of allocation of finance would ‘fall within the remit of the Executive Board’, adding that the Mayor as Chair of the meeting had been advised of that position.
Cllr Dana Davies, the leader of the Labour Group on Wrexham Council, moved the motion saying she was ‘disappointed’ to learn just before the meeting it was to be referred back to the Executive Board in that manner, adding it was “just 10 members of the Executive Board will make the decision when there are legislative and financial risks to the council”
Despite there being no debate, Cllr Davies went on to make several pre-prepared points speaking on the ‘importance’ of the Citizens Advice services and how it plays a role in the Council’s ‘Tackling Poverty’ agenda, and in her view any closure would mean Wrexham Council would have the legal responsiblity to provide advice services as of April last year due to a change in legislation.
Deputy Leader of the Labour Group Cllr Kevin Hughes seconded the motion.
The Mayor then re-iterated as the subject of allocation of funding came under the remit of the Executive Board the motion stood ‘deferred without discussion’ to the Executive Board for ‘consideration’.
The Legal Officer told councillors that the person presenting the motion will be told about the Executive Board meeting, and will have a chance to ‘explain’ the motion at the meeting.
After the meeting Cllr Dana Davies told us: “I am extremely disappointed that our Motion to provide £50,000 funding to Wrexham CAB has been deferred to the Executive Board for ten ‘Executive’ Councillors to make the decision.”
“This is especially concerning when there is an urgent need to address the legislative and financial risks the closure of Wrexham Citizens Advice poses to this Council. The Motion should have been debated by all Councillors and didn’t have to be deferred back to the Executive, this is clearly stated in our Standing Orders.
“I very much hope the Executive Board Members make the right decision on June 12th, as this Motion presented by the Labour Group not only protects the valuable and inclusive services Wrexham Citizens Advice provides to our citizens, some of whom are most vulnerable, but also ensures that Wrexham Council comply with their legislative duties.
“It also offers mitigation against future financial risk, a burden the Council is yet to fully cost and determine. Incredulous, when we are in times of austerity and ongoing cuts to our public services”