Wrexham Council Leader Mark Pritchard has announced this morning that the ‘aspiration’ remains to deliver one or possibly two schools on the Groves site.
In a well trailed announcement this morning the future of the site was confirmed to be staying for education use, with previous speculation over non-educational use firmly knocked on the head. Funding for the schools will partly come via Welsh Government through the 21st Century Schools programme, however with comments today from the Leader Member for Education any funding would be in the 2019-2024 tranche.
Councillor Pritchard said: “Our plans for the Groves site have not changed. It remains a priority for us to increase provision for education in the town centre to meet demand.”
“The Education Department has aspirations to build one or two schools on the Groves site which will be supported by the 21st Century Schools programme if a bid for funding is successful.”
“Plans for the former Groves school building will be taken into consideration in due course.”
Councillor Phill Wynn, Lead Member for Education, told us: “Whilst the listed Groves building lays empty all costs keeping it so are borne by Wrexham’s Education Department, so for me it is crucial that the future use of the Groves is known at the earliest possible moment.
“I am due to present a report in September to the Executive Board confirming the details of our School Improvement Strategic Outline Plan, which was submitted last week for consideration by the Welsh Government’s 21st Century school programme officers. The next round of capital funding will cover the period 2019-2024. The SOP lists those schools which we aspire to see modernised, on the back of the success stories delivered by the first tranche of funding provided by the Welsh Government.”
“Our Education officers involved in the process hold a proud record of delivering for Wrexham, having overseen the build of new schools at Ysgol Bro Alyn, Hafod y Wern CP, Gwenfro CP as well as class-room extensions at Ysgol Plas Coch and Alexandra CP. We are also in the process of delivering new school facilities at Penycae CP, Gwersyllt CP and Ysgol Bryn Alyn by 2018.”
“I feel it would be appropriate for elected members to question me on the future uses of the Groves site once they have had time to digest the content of the pending SOP report.”
“I very much welcome Ian Lucas’ offer of help, as per a recent article in the local press. Finding a sustainable use for the Groves school comes with a raft of challenges but with the good-will of all interested parties I am hopeful that the costs involved with mothballing the Groves will no longer be a topic of discussion.”
Leader of the opposition Labour Group of councillors Dana Davies has told us this afternoon, “I am disappointed – this raises more questions than answers. We were hoping for some detail and are keen to see the overall plan and vision, as are members of the public. The report on the School Improvement Strategic Outline Plan to the Executive Board in September which Cllr Wynn mentions is news to us and, naturally, there is the question as to whether proper scrutiny could have added value to this report prior to it being ratified by this administration.”
“The council now has more than ample time for robust planning and must submit the strongest possible bid for Welsh Government funding. We cannot afford for them to fall short.”
Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths said this afternoon: “The Groves saga has rumbled on for far too long and whilst the Executive Board’s plans for the site have been shrouded in mystery, today’s announcement hints at small signs of progress finally being made.”
“Nobody in Wrexham wants the site to remain unoccupied. We await further details due next month but I believe it is important elected members and the public have the chance to contribute to the plans.”
Top pic: The large Groves site after the old 1960’s block was cleared.