A new Trust is likely to be created to ‘safeguard to ongoing provision of Wrexham’s heritage, archives, arts and library Services’.
Services which help preserve the history of Wrexham will join cultural and library services under a new trust, if Council plans are approved. This would mean the museums, archives, library services and the like would be managed by a new organisation aside from the Council itself – but still local.
Around a year ago it appeared that Wrexham’s libraries could end up under a South Wales trust, before Councillors pressed for other options, including creating a locally run trust.
A statement released by Wrexham Council says: “In October 2014, Wrexham County Borough Council explored the possibility of setting up an employee mutual to manage the heritage services. But further exploration showed the employee mutual would not be a viable way of delivering the services, and it is now proposed that Heritage and Archives join the Non-Profit Distributing Organisation (NPDO)/Trust which will take on Arts and Libraries.”
The proposals (PDF report here) will go to the council’s Executive Board next week with Cllr Hugh Jones, Lead Member for Communities and Partnerships, said: “It has already been established that the setting up of trusts is the way to go to protect some services which could otherwise be lost to spending cuts – and this principle has already been adopted with regards to our Arts and Library services.
“Given the common ground shared between them, it is obvious that our Heritage and Archives services could easily fit in to a trust model designed to preserve our Arts and Libraries services.
“There is a great deal of crossover between each of these areas, and such a trust would have the potential to enhance each of these services by bringing them together.
“As well as attracting trustees with a broader range of backgrounds and expertise, this move would also help the trust financially – rather than setting up two separate trusts which would have to search for funds separately.
Wrexham.com queried if ownership of buildings and artefacts would be retained by Wrexham Council, and in reply we were told that property would be retained and leased, and “In terms of the artefacts that the museum currently own, we would not by law be able to give those away, the trust would be displaying and running them on our behalf.”
It appears any such ‘Super Trust’ would be set up in a manner that could mean future expansion to allow other authorities, or a bigger Wrexham if mergers occur, to become included under the trust umbrella. Speaking of how Wrexham has ‘led the way in North Wales’, we were told: “There was a risk to our libraries and leisure services and we worked very quickly to work to protect and enable those services, and it may well be that other authorities want to come on board.”
The Council Leader Mark Pritchard said of the public, “To them if its a trust or ourselves, all they want is to keep our facilities open. That has been our desire and passion since day one.
If people want to work in true partnership we will.”