Wrexham Council’s Executive Board has been forced to review their decision over the Groves building after a close vote at their annual meeting yesterday.
A report presented before the Council yesterday noted the previous lengthy discussions over the Groves. However an argument was put forward that the decisions taken were based off health and safety concerns.
Two amendments were put forward to attempt to force a review on the decisions taken due to ‘new facts’ with Cllr Dana Davies stating the new information could indicate decisions were taken due to ‘outside influence’.
A FOI appears to have been circulated to all Councillors yesterday afternoon, believed to have been from the Save Our Heritage group with additional ‘comments’. During the meeting the source of the information was queried by Wrexham’s new Mayor, with Cllr Dana Davies pointing out such questions were irrelevant as the information itself was provided by Wrexham Council and therefore public.
Cllr Lowe expressed caution over the FOI as it was apparently accompanied with a comment of sorts, with it pointed out that different people could draw different opinions from the same set of documents.
Due to this ‘new information’ two amendments to the recommendation that the previous positions were to be ‘noted’ were added to the meeting and put before a vote.
Cllr Davies proposed that ‘a full evidence-based review involving all members take place and the matter be reconsidered by the Executive Board based on that evidence’, citing Welsh Audit Office guidelines on decision making via evidence.
Wrexham Council Leader Mark Pritchard (who was later nominated and approved as the new Leader for the forthcoming year) was clearly exasperated with the issue being debated again, he said: “I am very disappointed and quite alarmed on what I have heard this evening from certain members. I am delighted that some time ago this Council put the webcam in so it is all recorded, and is there as fact.
“I don’t know what more information any elected member needs or requires in this chamber.” Challenging Cllr Davies’ claim over ‘lack of information’ he asked: “What more do you want? What you have asked for before you have had, and going into the future you can have what you like.
“The issue here is catering for children’s needs in Wrexham, we want to put two new schools on that site. What is wrong with that? Nothing at all.”
The above amendment was put to a ‘recorded vote’, where a round-the-room style roll call is carried out with each member making it clear their position.
Request for ‘Full evidence based review’ on Groves decision & Exec Board to review off that via amendment. Vote outcome means FAILED.
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) May 18, 2016
Full list of who voted which way will be available but 20 in favour of review, 22 against, with 3 abstentions. Close vote!
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) May 18, 2016
Cllr Michael Edwards then put forward a separate amendment to vote on, which was challenged by Cllr Hugh Jones via a point of order as being essentially the same as the previous vote but ‘with a few words’ being different.
Cllr Jones’ challenge was rejected, with Cllr Edwards pointing out his text did not reference a FOI and nor did it request all 52 Councillors to re-debate it, just the Executive Board. Cllr Edwards said his reasoning was to make it clear the decision was the Executive Board’s and not that of all 52 Councillors.
The following was then put to the vote: “When the Welsh Government has made a decision on listing the Groves building that the executive board reconsider their decision in the light of all relevant information which has become available in the meantime.”
The above was passed with 22 Councillors in favour, 21 against and 2 abstaining, meaning the forthcoming Welsh Government decision will then trigger a further consideration of the issue.
You can view the webcast of this agenda item on the Council’s streaming replay service here, although at times the audio did have issues.
We hope to have full confirmation of the vote position / list later today.