Wrexham bus station and the town centre are to benefit from improvement works in the new year.
Details of the work were provided by Executive Director, Place and Economy, Lee Robinson at this month’s Town Centre Forum meeting.
Replying to a pre-submitted question by Nigel Lewis about the implementation of a new town centre strategy, the progress made and if businesses will be consulted about any plans, Mr Robinson highlighted some of the work that had been carried out so far.
The Town Centre Strategy, which was set up to “co-ordinate the work of services covering a wide range of important areas in the town centre”, received support by the Executive Board earlier this year.
It came as a result of work carried out by the Wrexham Town Centre Management Task and Finish Group, which concluded that the “council needed to be clearer on its vision for the town centre, and set out its priorities for making it a viable, safe, accessible and prosperous place for people to live, work and visit.”
As a result a number of council officers and councillors within the same remit of environment and regeneration departments, have been working together to make such a vision clearer.
Speaking at last week’s meeting Mr Robinson explained that along with council officers, meetings have also taken place with organisations which have an influence on the town centre – including Wrexham Glyndwr University, Coleg Cambria, police and health representatives – with others to be added to the list.
However Mr Lewis queried if what had been listed would help “identify the inefficiencies”, adding: “It is a cast of thousands of people. My experience is getting simple things done in the town centre takes ages due to the layers of management.”
He added: “It is fundamental, and we’ve had this discussion and debated it, the way the environment department is managed in terms of parking fines, parking charges and litter fines. As a town we compete with shopping centre and out of town. The strategies adopted by this town is the opposite of what professionally managed shopping centres have done.
“Can there be much more formal consultation with business on the way the environmental department is managed in the town centre?”
However Mr Robinson noted hyperbole in the ‘thousands of people’ comment, gently correcting Mr Lewis by pointing out he hadn’t “I don’t think I mentioned a lot of people, but a lot of different organisations”, adding that it is important people have a voice.
He also noted ‘that everyone wants the same thing’ and that previously the Town Centre Forum it has felt like a “bit of a head banging session” – however he hopes to attend more meetings going forward.
Mr Robinson said he was “happy to have the discussion” and has already met with Alex Jones and Sam Regan, who now chair the forum and steering group, to discuss possibilities going forward. Mr Robinson pointed out that the Local Authority has to ‘do what it thinks is right’, as it is a political choice to enforce in this manner.
Details were also provided about the upcoming improvements in the town centre, with ‘phase one’ set to take place on Hope Street.
Earlier this year Wrexham.com reported plans to invest over £270,000 of Capital Funding into town centre improvements had been backed unanimously by members of the Executive Board. Such work is due to begin at some point in 2018, with indications that phase one will be completed by August 2018.
The plans include replacing the paving from the junction on High Street to Queens Street, replacing ‘all existing litter bins and seating’ inside Phrase 1, refurbishing of railings and installation of new LED lights (the columns will be retained) in large parts of the town’s shopping streets. The work on the street furniture is expected to take 10 weeks, however no start date has been firmed up.
Referencing how the new town centre strategy has influenced how the paving improvements will be made but more direct groups working together, Mr Robinson said: “One criticism of the task and finish group was who has fingers in the pie on making decisions.
“The paving plan was to do it in one particular material, but the heritage group of planners said no we want it in a different material as we want to maintain the heritage.
“However having all people together they said lets keep the heritage of town, and to do it something more expensive, but more in tune with the town centre. That is a good example of how it has worked already, having that group together the decisions were quick and easy.”
It was also noted that works on the bus station will begin mid-January, which will include upgrading the lighting with LED and pigeon unfriendly lights. A deep clean to remove the ‘mess from the pigeons’ will also take place, along with replacing the mats at the entrance / exits to the bus station and making it ‘pigeon unfriendly’.
Chairman of the Town Centre Forum, Alex Jones, explained that Mr Robinson would be attending more meetings going forward would be keeping members updated.