‘The former Groves school site will not be used for anything other than educational purposes’ – that is the assurance given by the Leader of Wrexham Council following a month long debate on the future of the site.
The assurance from the Council Leader Mark Pritchard come as a result of the public opposition to the Executive Board’s decision to demolish the former Groves School early this spring.
Since approving the demolition of the school there has been a strong public backlash, resulting in more than 2000 people signing a petition opposing the decision and two public protests held outside the Groves.
Earlier this month a ‘call-in’ of the decision to demolish the site was debated by members of the Customers Performance Resources & Governance Scrutiny Committee. However an attempt to revisit the decision failed with six councillors voting against bringing the decision back to the Executive Board.
One of the main concerns raised by members of the public since the demolition was confirmed is that the site will not be used for educational purposes; with fears the land could be sold off for a housing development or another non-educational use. Wrexham.com has documented meetings where Mr Pritchard referred to previous administrations exploring if overturning the educational covenant was possible, therefore opening it up to non-educational use.
However members of Wrexham’s current administration have confirmed that the former Groves site is to be redeveloped for education purposes only, as per the covenants that exist on this piece of land, and not for commercial, retail or housing purposes.
Cllr Mark Pritchard, Leader of the Council, said: “Now that the matter called in by Scrutiny Committee who took the decision not to refer the matter back to the Executive Board is complete, it is appropriate that the current administration give the assurance to members of the public that the former Groves school site will not be used for anything other than educational purposes.
“This is in accordance with the educational covenants placed there many years ago which I believe were visionary for the future of education in Wrexham. The Council is currently in negotiations to bring a new school to the site. Until the details are confirmed it is not possible to say anything further about what type of school that will be.
On Saturday campaigners opposing the demolition of the school held their second demonstration, with a ‘Valentine’s Hearts and Ribbons’ protest taking place.
The decision has been described as ‘heartless’ by some campaigners, who have pleaded for Wrexham Council to reconsider.
Cllr Pritchard added: “The administration recognises that this matter has been very emotive for some people and would like to assure them and all other members of the public that the future provision of schools that are fit purpose in the 21st Century is a priority for us and one which we do not undertake lightly. Providing our young people with an environment that meets that need and helps them achieve their full potential and aspirations is essential to achieving that priority.
“Sometimes, particularly with the unprecedented financial challenges the council is facing, it is necessary to take difficult decisions. This was one of those decisions, however, to do nothing with a site that was being mothballed at considerable cost to the public purse was not an option we were prepared to consider.
“I look forward to announcing further details about plans for the site in the very near future.”
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