At last nights Council meeting North Wales Newspaper’s ‘Leader’ publication was hammered from all sides for its reporting on a planned meeting about the town’s markets. Traders told us they have had regular customers questioning when, not if, stalls will close. Others report losing orders as a result – one to the tune of several hundred pounds.
The scrutiny committee Chairman, Cllr Rodney Skelland, took it upon himself to tell the meeting “To be clear there is no suggestion the markets will close”.
One trader from the General Market told Councillors that she found the report ‘upsetting’ adding “I have a hoarse voice this week from telling customers we are not closing”. The Chair added “It goes to show how much damage negative press can do”.
Another trader was recounting how one wedding shop has lost custom worth hundreds of pounds with a customer asking for refunds in the belief the shop will no longer exist – which they claim is a direct result of the Leader’s article.
Council Leader Neil Rogers also made a point of directly referencing the report during the meeting saying “The report that was publicised in the local paper sent out the wrong message. I was disappointed when I read that”.
Cllr Derek Wright said he had read “adverse comments in the Leader” later adding traders ‘need support, they need reassurance, hopefully there will be a much better report in the Leader tomorrow.”
Cllr Phil Wynn also commented on the reporting during the meeting saying “I hope the press take a positive message out of this meeting. I hope the press will cover it – that the markets are open for business”.
On our forums a trader in the Butchers Market said “I was very disappointed to see the Leaders article yesterday, the worst bit was the scaremongering headline on the front of the paper and on their A boards saying ‘Markets under threat’.”
“I spoke to the writer of the article, Lois Hough, and she says that the headlines were not written by her. Editors up in Mold seem to be to blame.”
This claim was repeated to us this evening at and after the meeting, with others being told that the headlines are not written locally but are created in Mold.
A follow up article ran in the Leader the next day, however market traders we spoke to were not happy with that either. One told us that the Leader had told them they would have a reporter at the meeting (which they did) and ‘would report what happens’.
Wrexham.com asked the Council specifically, referencing the headlines in the Leader, if the markets were under threat of closure in anyway. The Council referred to the public report saying “The report states that the markets should be retained and improved physically and cosmetically through a programme of investment to be discussed with traders.”
In their reply the Council bolded and placed in red the section of the report that says “4.26 The recommendation therefore, is to retain the three existing markets.”
The Daily Post’s coverage of the report made their frontpage, and their version is below. Tonight there was no reference to negative reporting by the Daily Post, and some praised the coverage.
You can read our report here which was published over the weekend, prior to the above articles in the Daily Post and Leader.
UPDATE MIDDAY: There is no mention of the criticism in today’s Leader. There is however a post on their Facebook page saying “Employment, business and investment scrutiny committee members were last night asked to consider a number of options, including the closure of the century-old General Market, or investment.” At no point during the meeting was the closure of the General Market put forward as a consideration. The Leader also took a bashing at this morning’s Town Centre Forum meeting.
On their own Facebook page they have a comment left saying “Why are you insisting on pushing the misinformation that the General market was under threat. At no point did anyone discuss, vote, or consider the closure of the General market at this meeting! It was ruled out before the meeting. Stop messing about with the livelyhood of the traders in that market will you, they have lost a lot of money because of your misrepresentation of the issues.”
Update 3:30pm: Its been pointed out to us that Wrexham Council have taken the unusual step of directly commenting on the Leader’s Facebook page correcting the lead in to the article saying “At no point was the closure of the markets discussed.”
To view the ongoing forum thread regarding the Markets with others please visit the Wrexham.com Forum thread by clicking here >>