Councillor Looks To Shrewsbury For Town Council Model
Wrexham Council is still hoping to introduce a more joined up approach to the town centre, with one councillor wanting to go a step further an introduce a dedicated Town Council.
Update: To be clear… The Lead Member for Economic Development and Regeneration after receiving the Scrutiny Chair’s presentation of his report “noted the report” he then went on to recommend that Executive Board “Authorise that he work with the Executive Director for Place and Economy to develop the actions that meet the aspirations set out in the report.” you can just about hear the very short section of what was agreed on the webcast here, which appears to indicate *nothing* is actually happening but further work will be taking place.
Original information below…
Councillor Rodney Skelland presented a report to the Executive Board yesterday, the outcome of an idea first mooted back in 2014.
The report output
will could see a new Town Centre Strategy created, and a Wrexham Town Centre Councillor and Council Officer Group established to include representation from the departments responsible for implementing actions in the previously mentioned Wrexham Town Centre Strategy.
We documented a rather confused meeting back in February, and yesterdays’ report was one of the final stages of output from the process to make the idea a reality.
Cllr Skelland presented the report to the Executive Board yesterday, saying that the overall plan came together after there were concerns raised by Council Officers over departmental coordination of town centre focused efforts.
Cllr Skelland explained several issues that had surfaced during various reviews into the ways of working, noting there were many existing strategies and plans for the town centre however there was a need for more joined up working. Eagles Meadow and Island Green were given as examples of management that had been looked at, along with the Community Councils that cover the town centre having their input to management as described as ‘very little’.
Taking the thought of new models and ways of working a step further, Cllr Skelland advocated a major future step: “If I had my way, we would look at the Shrewsbury model and the viability of a Town Council at the next boundary review, to introduce more viable and coordinated governance in the town.”
Shrewsbury Town Council is new(ish) body, only being convened in 2009, and is made up of 17 Councillors with wards matching Shropshire Council (there are further details on its website here).
If a similar model was adapted there could only be around 6-7 wards that would cover the town centre and very near area, the likely representation on the new Councillor / Officer Group formed by the report.
At a previous meeting a council officer described how the new strategy and group would work in practice, with a director in place and regular meetings to ensure cross departmental work takes place, rather than working in silos. It was noted that the democratic input would be via councillors ‘setting the direction and the plan’ via the usual processes in place – such as Scrutiny / Executive Board decision making pathways.
The plans were first referenced back in a June 2014 Scrutiny report, stating “Concern that currently there was no formal co-ordination in the delivery of Wrexham Town Centre services between departments. It was felt that improved co-ordination between departments would lead to an improvement in overall delivery of Local Authority services.” Cllr Skelland noted yesterday that the overall work was indepth, and had ‘taken time’ but the time taken had ‘not hindered development’ in the town.
Cllr Skelland said there was still ‘a long way to go to improve confidence in the town centre’ promising that the Scrutiny system will ‘keep a close eye’ on the outcomes of the proposed new way of working.
There were no questions from councillors, with Council Leader Mark Pritchard, Cllr Hugh Jones and Cllr Terry Evans all welcoming the move.
As Cllr Skelland is Chair of the Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee we will look out for any evaluation of the benefits to the town a Town Council could bring.
Unlike Flintshire we can’t embed the video, but you can watch to the section of the presentation by clicking here.
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