Council “forget” to invite night time economy representatives to town centre debate, says local business owner
Members of Wrexham’s night time economy say they are ‘baffled’ for not being invited to a meeting about the town centre, and question why a key piece of work “forgot” them.
The Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee met this week to discuss two linked items, an update to the town centre pandemic action plan, and a report from a task and finish group looking at the town centre.
One of the recommendations from the task and finish group included ensuring better communication regarding the town centre, “including circulation of e-mails to as wide a range of affected businesses as possible”.
The report does examine the public realms and other such elements that affect both the night and day time economies, for example ease of access, travel and physical changes, eg. “One aspect that can attract both businesses and people into the town centre could be an improvement in physical infrastructure.
“The public realm programme contains an aim to develop a Green Infrastructure Project to improve the physical environment in the core of Wrexham town centre, complementing the emergence of a Market Quarter.”
One hospitality business owner who read the report and watched the meeting commented: “The night time economy of Wrexham is one of the bigger employers in the town centre and we have a lot of independent businesses.
“I was quite surprised that there is no forward planning of support, or even consultation on this.”
“If one of us had been invited we could have asked where is the data to link the footfall figures to reality. One million people in the town centre does not, and is not, equating to one million spending money.
“We need data to compare against, perhaps ask us ‘was your turnover up’ and get some data”.
The issue of correlation between spend and footfall was noted by Cllr Nigel Williams in the meeting, .
Cllr Andy Williams probed the reports before councillors, and questioned footfall data presented: “You said you have got two footfall counters, one for the day economy, one for the night time, if that’s the case, is the one set for nighttime economy and then figures used for daytime as well or not used in the day?”
The officer told the meeting that there was a counter on Hope St and Hight St, both were operational all the time, with the data split hourly.
Cllr Williams noted “We say, and we always have said, that we’ve got two economies in the town centre, we have the daytime and night time economies” and questioned where the representation for business was at the meeting.
The officer said, “It is a fair comment. There is a very good network for the nighttime economy through the Nightsafe scheme that Rachel supports as well. So and it’s very active network.
Later she added: “Cllr Williams referred to the nighttime economy and bringing somebody in from that group, again, there is the night safe scheme is representative from the wider night time economy also with a chair and in hindsight and we take on board, we should have invited that chair so that group”
The meeting was due to hear from Wrexham Business Group however no representatives were able to make the meeting despite being invited, meaning councillors and the meeting did not hear directly from the business community of either the night time or day time economy.
Council officers did defend the position during the meeting stressing they had good ongoing ‘live’ networks of contacts with town centre officers ‘pounding the streets’, having digital contact lists and active Whatsapp groups.
Cllr Rodney Skelland stated he thought Wrexham was the ‘only town in the UK without a town council’, suggesting it would be a better and more democratic route for representation and communication.
Another town centre business person also queried the lack of representation at the meeting, telling us, “No one sent a message out to say ‘this meeting is on, do you have any questions or points?’ or ‘This is the report’. Do the councillors know the town centre, there should be actual representation from the businesses on the committee – not as councillors – but an independent business voice”.
We put the argument that there is a business group, and the various methods mentioned in the meeting, to the individual and they said: “There are too many small factions, there is no proper representation.
“There is obviously no formal engagement – either way – and that is reflected in such a vital meeting having no business representation from either the day time or night time economy of Wrexham.”
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