Plaid Cymru councillors have made a case to keep Wrexham’s Citizens’ Advice centre open – by using funds saved from not having a permanent chief executive in post over the past nine months.
Group leader Marc Jones said the Citizens’ Advice centre on Grosvenor Road was a ‘huge asset to the borough’ and had dealt with more than 5,000 cases last year alone.
Ahead of an executive board meeting this morning, members of the Plaid Cymru group have proposed that money saved from the vacant chief executive position is used for the Citizens Advice Service.
The council’s previous Chief Executive, Dr Helen Paterson, left Wrexham Council towards the end of 2017 to take up a similar position in Walsall. For various reasons the post remain unfilled for several months, with Clare Field taking on the role temporarily. At the end of May Wrexham Council announced that Ian Bancroft had been appointed to the role.
However Cllr Jones states that around £100,000 has been saved over the past 12 months from not having a permanent chief executive – money he argues could be used to fund the Citizens Advice Service.
He said: “At a time when more and more people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, access services and get independent advice, it’s vital we have the expertise and experience of Citizens’ Advice available locally.
“The centre is an asset to the people but also to the council – with trustees saying it has saved the authority £200,000 last year.
“It was disappointing that the full council wasn’t able to vote on this matter last month and I hope the Executive Board will see sense and continue to fund the centre in the future. The options on the table are very modest – £25,000 a year.”
Cllr Jones added: “This is a council that has saved around £100,000 from not employing a permanent chief executive over the past nine months, with one of our executive directors stepping up to carry out the role.
“This unexpected windfall could be used to benefit a valuable service.”
On Monday Wrexham.com reported that trustees at the Citizens Advice Service had hit back at comments made by Wrexham Council by issuing a statement presenting their side of the issues surrounding their organisation.
The service, which dealt with in excess of 8500 clients with over 21,000 enquiries recorded in the past year, has warned it could close by the end of July if funding from Wrexham Council is not forthcoming
This morning Executive Board members will debate four options – including allocating some funding – which could help safeguard the service for a further 12 months.
Such options come as a result of a ‘notice of motion’ submitted to full council by labour councillors in May.
Today’s meeting will start at 10am and will be viewable via the council’s webcasting service for those unable to attend.