Retail vacancy rates, town centre perception, visitor figures and recycling targets. How has Wrexham Council performed over the past 12 months?
A new report outlining the council’s performance over the past 12 months shows a mixed-bag of results.
It includes an increase in the number of people visiting the town centre and a drop in vacant shops. However it acknowledges “public perception around safety and fear of crime in the town centre is a concern.”
As part of the annual document a number of areas of the council’s performance are graded in a traffic light system – with red suggesting performance is off track, amber showing progress has been made but not as quickly as desired and green is progress is being made and outcomes are improving.
It is set against a backdrop of the council’s well-being objectives and the four “strategic and corporate themes” of
economy, people, place and organisation.
This covers everything from the performance of the town centre, local education, social care services, employment levels, investment in the area and tackling poverty.
Data provided within the report states that whilst some of the priority outcomes have improved from last year, the majority have stayed the same.
In terms of the town centre vacancy levels are described as “amber”, having seen a slight reduction from 14.1 per cent to 14 per cent over the past 12 months. The report states although this is below the Welsh average, “continued monitoring is needed for further reduction to indicate the health of the town centre”.
There is an incorrect perception that Wrexham Council is in charge of all shops in Wrexham and has responsibility for setting business rates and “moving all the shops from Eagles Meadow back into the town”.
However of the 22 shops actually owned by the council in town, there were just three empty at the end of the year. Again this has been given an amber ranking for performance.
The report also draws attention to some key figures from the past 12 months, including highly precise numbers stating 1,451,768 visiting the town over the last 12 months, 106,672 people visiting Tŷ Pawb and an increase in visitor spend.
But the total number of visitors staying in Wrexham dropped – along with a reduction in the number of overnight stays. This has been put down to a “reflection of the inability to find a room within the county on certain days, or the lack of quality / attractiveness of current accommodation in the county.”
The economy in Wrexham is also described as “strong” with the “businesses can locate and grow here” outcome ranked as green between 2018/19. This is due to an increase in the number of recorded businesses and employment being below the national average.
Reference is made to the new Town Square Hub which has been set-up to support new business start ups, and the “record growth” of over “£1 million a day being invested in capital projects” on the Wrexham Industrial Estate.
One red element listed in the report is the number of “survey respondents” who said they felt safe in the town centre – with just 35 per cent agreeing that they do. This in contrast to the ‘amber ranking’ given to the 72 per cent of residents who feel safe in their local area.
The report states that although there has been a “lot of positive multi-agency work ongoing, with a strong focus on Wrexham town centre, the public perception around safety and fear of crime in the town centre is a concern.”
It adds that despite “significant reductions in anti-social behaviour” – with a figure of a 42 per cent drop given – work will continue to address the perceptions of the town over the next 12 months.
Other notable figures in the report are an increase in the number of those using local sports and leisure facilities and a total of 34,400 people visiting the Wrexham Museum. A recycling target of 66.12 per cent was also made over the last 12 months.
But there was a drop in the number of people using country parks for the second year, shifting from 561,000 in 2016/17 to 439,036 in 2018/19. This has been put down to the introduction of parking charges in some of the country parks and a reduction on the number and size of events taking place.
Looking ahead Wrexham Council it wants to continue “modernising services”, with figures indicating that there has been an increase in the number of “service requests received from customers through the online digital platform.”
As a result the report continues onto say that: “Enhancements are underway to ensure that the council has a modern and resilient ICT infrastructure.
“During 2019/20 the contact centre will move to a new technology platform which will enable the council to both improve services and drive efficiencies within the contact centre.”
You can view the full performance report on the Wrexham Council website, here.
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