The Oriel has been requested to stop publishing material suggesting that Wrexham’s ‘Arts and Cultural Hub’ is a done deal, with market traders also unhappy at the lack of answers to their questions over plans.
At yesterday’s Town Centre Forum meeting the Chairman Nigel Lewis hammered a Council representative for answers over the future of the People’s Market, becoming increasingly unhappy with the response of ‘we dont know’.
Barry Williams, owner of the Beauty Box and representative of traders in the People’s Market also spoke at the meeting, saying that although the markets are being run as ‘business as usual’ there is great concern over the lack of clarity on the future of the market. Mr Williams said there are around fifty jobs at risk, stating: “None of us know what to do, we have no where to go, and have no answers.”
Last month we wrote of similar concerns being voiced, with the response at the time to traders being by Cllr Hugh Jones being: “There is nothing we have not shared with them, we have been totally open with them.”
Yesterday saw the lack of clarity continuing for a further month, with Mr Lewis saying: “I am getting concern from a lot of people in the town centre, there is an incredible amount of uncertainty of what is happening within the markets.”
“Wrexham Council literature on the Oriel Gallery states that this (the arts hub) is going ahead, using the word will, not maybe, and this is having a detrimental effect on their livelihoods.
“Can the wording be removed from the Oriel Gallery website and in print that this ‘will’ happen? It is not acceptable. I would ask they don’t give out more of the booklets saying it will happen.”
Wrexham Council’s representatives at the meeting said they would feedback the detail on the Oriel’s publication back to their Arts Manager.
Wrexham.com has seen the below leaflet issued by the Oriel referring to ‘we are making the move to a new purpose built arts and culture hub’, however the Oriel’s website does refer to it as a ‘proposed development’.
Mr Williams said: “We are being kept in the dark an awful lot. My concern is that it will happen, and as traders we are not being offered any future, there is no commitment.”
Wrexham Council’s Town Centre Manager Isobel Garner stepped in to try and answer the queries raised in the meeting, however when asked what percentage of existing stallholders would be offered stalls in the new ‘hub’ she referred to previous comments made by Cllr Hugh Jones saying that the consultation has not yet taken place.
Mr Williams came back pointing out that there was still ‘no guarantees’ and ‘there is potential that some market traders will lose their place’.
The Council reply was again to point out that ‘We don’t know. We can’t say as the work hasn’t taken place. The consultants have not completed their work yet. The consultants are the experts, I cant pre-empt what they are going to come up with.”
Mr Lewis interjected, stating: “It all seems to be ‘we don’t know’ and we are spending all this money on consultants and we don’t know what we are doing.”
Speaking after the meeting Mr Williams told Wrexham.com the exchange seen in the forum meeting was typical of the information shared to him as a representative of market traders, referring to the ‘we dont know’ answer, saying “It is the answer we get every time”
“I get it in the neck from traders who think I am keeping things from them, but the response today is the response we get. I go to every meeting and get told ‘we don’t know anything and will tell you when we do’ ”
Mr Williams did say he was hoping to raise an issue in the meeting with Cllr Neil Rogers, however by that point in the meeting he had left.
Speaking with other traders it appears one of the concerns is that any market space in the new ‘hub’ will be along the lines of smaller craft centre units rather than market stalls traditionally seen in Wrexham.
An invitation to attend further meetings regarding the Arts Hub and Markets was extended by Isobel Garner to Nigel Lewis.
A detailed design and report on the development is expected to come back to Wrexham Council in late October / early November with a public consultation opened to gauge views on the proposals.
Wrexham.com are told that the consultation is not likely to contain a yes or no style question of if an arts hub is wanted in the town, nor one asking if people are in favour of giving up market stalls in the People’s Market to enable the development.