Posted: Thu 16th Mar 2023

No clarity on new Mayor as Guildhall witnesses terrible debate between councillors for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 16th, 2023

Wrexham’s Full Council meeting was the worst we have witnessed last night, with a huge split between the Administration and opposition groups over who should be the next Mayor – and how the person will be selected.

The Full Council was due to consider Cllr Paul Rogers nomination as Mayor however, as the meeting opened, it was made known that he was withdrawing from the process. A statement was given to, and councillors were told the papers before them were updated to reflect there was only one piece of business on the agenda item – to vote on Deputy Mayor going to Cllr Blackmore.

In what was going to become common over the next couple of hours, points of order were exchanged picking through the correct processes – first to discover if the removal of the nomination was an amendment or just an edit – it was the latter and thus no vote.

The Constitution Working Group should be a cross party group of consensus to avoid public disputes that could bring civic roles into disrepute, however it has failed in that goal.

Opposition groups Labour and Plaid Cymru pulled out of the Working Group in February, making claims it was being used by the Administration to get a desired name.

Those allegations were repeated and expanded upon in what was a heated debate direct between councillors, across the chamber, complete with juvenile heckles. Accusations of bullying, personal attacks and targeting of individual councillors were also made – with the Mayor Cllr Brian Cameron having to step in to specially depersonalise debates.

The Administration v Opposition Groups war had several side battles, but the main contention was the argument over the Working Group itself. The Opposition firm in their point it was a broken and abused process, and appear reluctant to re-engage. The Administration called on the Legal Officer – who was present at the Working Group meetings – to confirm that the process was legal and not improper.

The Opposition put forward proposals that would have seen Cllr Stella Matthews become Mayor, and Cllr Krista Childs the Deputy Mayor. That was wrapped up in a single vote that also included bringing a set of standards policies into the whole mayoral selection process. That vote fell, and thus all the proposals were not taken forward.

A vote was also taken on Deputy Mayor nomination of Cllr Blackmore, which passed.

After the meeting all groups appeared to feel victorious and vindicated, with the tit for tat continuing – gripes around Cllr Wynn’s “kangeroo court” comments, unhappiness over the Mayor appearing to vote against the Deputy Mayor nomination, calls for Cllr Davies to leave the meeting yet Cllr Blackmore voting on her own nomination all being subject of the post-match points scoring.

Despite the best part of two hours of full bore politics Wrexham still does not have a Mayor in waiting, which is required for the Annual Meeting. The issue will go back behind closed doors to the Constitution Working Group, who makes up that groups is not yet known nor if the outcome will provoke a repeat of last night at the Annual Meeting.

If the conduct and manner of debate in the public eye is reflected behind closed doors, it is hard to see where the consensus will be found.

You can view a quick set of clips from some of the debate assembled by below, or view the full webcast of the meeting via the council’s streaming service here.

Our live tweets as we observed from the sidelines are below for further detail on what was said in the extraordinary meeting…

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