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Concerns over delays to schemes to improve Wrexham’s communities raised for second time in six months

Concerns over delays to schemes to spruce up some of Wrexham’s communities have been raised by councillors for the second time in six months.

Assurances were given at a meeting back in March that Wrexham Council was on top of a significant backlog of environmental improvement projects, which include parking initiatives and fencing repairs.

However, members of the authority’s homes and environment scrutiny committee have voiced their frustration at the continued wait to have work completed.

It comes as a report shows only six schemes have been completed so far this financial year, compared to around 60 being put forward.

It also highlights that those which were finished were outstanding from previous years.

Holt councillor Mike Morris was among those who spoke out at a meeting on Wednesday after experiencing delays to a small parking project he requested money for at the start of 2018.

He said: “I just think that the system is not working as it could work.

“I put in one single on-plot car parking scheme last February and it was looked at; it was appraised, and I had the price back on the 22nd of July.

“I responded the same day and Keith (Edwards, environment officer) has now come back to me and said it’s with the contractor, so I don’t know what the start date is likely to be.

“If that’s seven months for a scheme like that I think we should be looking more at where the problems arise. There’s going to be a massive backlog.”

Senior figures said work being carried out by Virgin Media was to blame for significant delays to one project elsewhere in the county.

They added they were often reliant on external companies reacting to requests in a timely manner.

But Gwersyllt north representative Barrie Warburton said the lack of updates provided to councillors was also causing anger.

Addressing officers, he said: “You say you’ve got a list of jobs to be done, but I don’t know where they’re going to be in the list or when they’re ever going to be done.

“The money’s there waiting and we just want the jobs done.”

A dedicated team was set up to address the backlog of initiatives in 2018 when the council hired two members of staff to assist.

The authority has now decided to employ an extra engineer to help with larger projects, which are funded by money from the council’s ring-fenced housing revenue account

In response to concerns about delays, one officer said they were on schedule in terms of designing the projects but admitted more contractors were needed to finish work on site.

Lee Roberts, property investment lead, said: “In terms of the timescales you mentioned, I made a commitment last October when we looked at the backlog that by May this year, all the designs would be done.

“Unfortunately, it’s a moving feast, but I would say we are getting on top of the design element.

“There is now a bit of a backlog to be delivered on site. I’m hoping we’ll have more contractors as we do need to deliver and we recognise that.”

At the end of the meeting, councillors asked for a further progress report to be provided in six months’ time.

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).

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