This morning was the monthly Town Centre Forum meeting in the Guildhall with around thirty people attending the early event!
Below is a summary of the meeting….
There was praise for the Walk On Wales event that took place on Llwyn Isaf last weekend, with turn out and atmosphere commended.
The Walk On Wales was one of a number of big events have taken place across Llwyn Isaf and Queen’s Square over the past few weeks. This includes the recent Peace Day, the Play Day and also WreXfest.
It was noted that at present there have been no more large events booked for Llwyn Isaf, however there will be several private bookings.
Details of upcoming events include the Christmas lights switch on which takes place on the 21st November in Queens Square – with the now usual firework display and other wonderment!
Other upcoming Christmas events include the always cracking Victorian Market on December 12th.
Santa’s Grotto is as we have reported before, to be placed in the People’s Market in early December this year. This is part of a wider move to reinvigorate the towns markets.
Events / What’s On Guide
The highly discussed What’s On Guide was again mentioned in this months meeting. The possibility of a What’s On Guide for the town has been an ongoing discussion at the Town Centre Forum meetings, with the subject initially raised at the beginning of the year.
Back in February the Council said that they would present the proposals for an ‘Events Guide’ in February. At the meeting a quarterly publication was suggested, which would included a quote for four editions of a 32 page full colour bilingual publication. With a years (so four editions) cost for 30,000 copies being tendered at £24,424. However it was added that this would not include direct to door postage. Prices for 10,000 (£17,376) and 20,000 copies (£20,396) were also presented. Costs for design were also given ranging from £2200 to £3600. You can read the full report from February here.
Pricing for a What’s On Guide was given as £2000 for 5000 copies, with design costing around £700. Distribution of the guide could take place via the Council leisure services, such as libraries and possibly hotels.
The Chairman of the TCF said: “The idea is to do a booklet by the 1st November” and people who wish to place a paid advert are asked to call 01978 229 252 and speak with Amanda Wynne Evans.
The future of the Council’s ‘Connect’ magazine was also mentioned in the context of piggybacking a What’s On guide inside, with one member of the forum querying whether or not it was being scrapped.
The meeting was told “It is under review” with a decision on its future due ‘pretty soon’.
It is likely this will tie in with the forthcoming October 16th D-Day for council finances. Cllr Rogers said reviews will take place once the final figure is known, saying: “It’s the block grant we get from Welsh Government, the indications are it will be tough. Extremely tough.”
News on the Wrexham Prison
Questions were raised on the prison announcement and what progress had been made with the prison itself.
Cllr Neil Rogers said: “The latest is we are awaiting a planning application, that has not come in yet, but we have had several meetings with the MOJ and local community councils. We have made a list of people we want to speak to and there are some in this room. We are looking to work with partners in the voluntary sector and other partners.”
The Council leader was asked about the initial figures which stated a 2000 unit, however this is now ’2000 plus’. A further query asked what would happen when some of the prisoners are released and if they would stay locally.
Cllr Hugh Jones said: “I spoke with Chris Grayling and there is a new policy developing. The new policy is prisoners will spend the last part of their sentence in prisons nearest to where they live. All prisoners released will have a mentor and support package, so the landscape will have changed by when the prison is built.”
In terms of prison or numbers the meeting was told “It could be 2100.”
Shopping Centre Managers Conference
As Chairman of the TCF, Kevin Critchley (who is in charge of Eagles Meadow) had the thrilling experience of attending a conference for other shopping centre managers. Feedback was given to the meeting of what he found out.
The Chairman referred to ‘Futurists’ at the conference who said that at the moment 25% of retail space is not wanted by anyone. Speculation took place to if that would get better or worse; but in five years time the ‘Futurists’ said 35% of retail space will not be wanted. Thus a question was posed what would shopping space be used for, and the answer given was it could turn to housing.
Mr Critchley said: “What we have to start doing is thinking what we can use that retail space for.
“We have to get together to get events going on in the town. We have a big challenge, if you think the next few years was challenging the next will be worse”
Talking about how Wrexham needs to remain competitive he said “Reduction in demand wont be everywhere. The big potential losers are smaller towns.
“If Mold closes c’est le vie, and if Whitchurch disappears down the pan then so be it.”
Cllr Rogers highlighted work by Wrexham Council with ‘Vibrant and Viable Places’, the outcome of which is due to be known in the new year. The bid is being put together and it appears Wrexham has ahead of the game and is having more success than other authorities. TCF Chair offered to support and help where possible.
The market restructuring and reinvigoration meeting was commended with a TCF member saying: “The town can have a positive outlook, so the markets meeting helps give an excellent springboard”. You can read our fuller report of the meeting referenced here.
Amanda Wynne suggested sub sectioned space, ‘market-esque’, to allow in sole traders. Use of the market was suggested instead with the £10 a day deal highlighted by Cllr Baldwin.
A TCF member said: “A friend tried that and we were told we can’t do our idea as there was already someone doing that service.”
Cllr Rogers promised to discuss things after the meeting with the people who mentioned it (he did – we saw!). The contact for the markets was given as Amanda Davies at Wrexham Council for those who are interested.
‘New’ Chairman of Town Centre Forum Meetings
Eagles Meadow chief Kevin Critchley has acted as Chairman of the TCF for around two years.
Me Critchley said: “I have been making a mess of this for two years, and I am conscious that these bodies can get stale and samey so I invited applications for the position of the chair.
“If someone feels like they want a crack at being Chair or Vice Chair, then I will quite happily stand aside. To be dead honest I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea!”
However no one had put themselves forward to take over the position of the new Chairman, and no one in the room put themselves forward. Due to this Cllr Baldwin proposed continuity, and Mr Critchley was ‘elected’ for a further term.
‘Round The Room’ Updates
With no further business, and no crime reports presented, the usual ’round the room roundup’ took place. A summary is below:
- The Leader reporter said ‘‘sometimes people complain there is not enough good news stories in Wrexham and as a result bad news gets published. He encouraged people with good news to get in touch with the Leader.
- Kevin Forbes gave information on this years Poppy Appeal – further details on this will be appearing on Wrexham.com.
- Glyndwr told the TCF they are holding an open day on Saturday, and another on the 23rd November. The open days are for anyone – so those interested in courses, and those who want a nose / tour of the facilities, open 10am to 2pm.
- A request was made for the Market meeting bulletpoints / Powerpoint to be circulated to the TCF.
- Cllr Baldwin mentioned his research into town centre coach parking, with costings for Cresecent Rd being £17.5k. Grove Rd £7.5k. The lack of facilities caused confusion over the aim, as currently there is coach drop offs, but space was mooted for coaches to park after dropping off. Thanks was offered for looking into it from the TCF.
- Bob Gray related how he has travelled on the new town centre bus service saying: “It is wonderful to hear the hospital mentioned” as it is included in the route.
- An exhibition is being held in the old JJB store (Un Deg Un) at the end of the month for three weeks on history of volunteering around the town over the last 100 years.
- A charity shop announcement is due shortly regarding business rates. The meeting was told some ‘nationals’ may reduce their services in Wales, so there is concern how that will pan out.
- The proposed extension of the Monday Market is still on the cards with a 5th November meeting date planned.
- Nightingale House Hospice mentioned their ‘Socktober’ fundraiser, where people are encouraged to collect £1 and wear silly socks for charity (more here)!
The next meeting is due to be Tuesday 12th November at 8.30am. Today saw a ‘member of the public’ attend for the first time we are aware of, and they seemed to enjoy the meeting and took part so we dont see why anyone interested in their town centre cannot also attend if you so wish.