WREXHAM Council has been accused of misleading a community council over the cost of taking on facilities.
Caia Park Community Council was due to debate the possibility of running community centres, play areas and school crossing patrols at a meeting on Thursday following an ultimatum from Wrexham Council to take them on or potentially face losing them.
Based on initial figures in a letter by the authority's head of community wellbeing and development Lawrence Isted, it was calculated the Caia Park authority would face an extra bill of £35,400. That would have meant a 17 per cent hike on the community precept for a band D property in the area - up from £56 to £65.48.
But at a meeting between Mr Isted and Caia Park Community Council chairman Cllr Marc Jones and clerk Michael Morris – just hours before the council met to decide whether to take on cost of the facilities – he revealed the costs could be much higher than the £35,400 mooted figure.
The extra costs include a £57,600 bill to maintain and carry out repairs to bring Kingsley Circle Community Centre up to scratch, as well as an annual £15,712 bill for running costs and a £9,900 yearly maintenance bill.
The council would also have to find another £6,000 to cover the running costs for Pentre Gwyn Community Centre. The bill for keeping play areas had increased from £3,360 to £9,100 – to include additional inspection costs and a bill for grass cutting and litter picking from Wrexham Council.
Mr Morris, who is also county councillor for Holt, said: “A lot of what was said in Lawrence Isted’s letter was at best misleading. Those are just net operating costs and what came out of today’s meeting are the condition surveys. I think the money needed on the play areas is where we have been misled quite considerably.
“For school crossing patrols it’s not an authorised function of the community council to employ them.”
Cllr Jones said he was shocked to discover Wrexham Council had yet to undertake a risk assessment on removing school crossing patrols.
Queensway community councillor Carrie Harper said: “I don’t know what they’re thinking of at the county council, but this is a shambles. We don’t know if the figures are accurate for a start. I don’t see why we don’t just say no to them and put the ball back in their court.”
Whitegate county councillor Brian Cameron said: “We definitely need to know if these figures are correct.”
In response to the concerns raised by the community council, Wrexham Council has denied they were misled.
A spokesman said: “The first figures were the cost to the community council if they’d like for the the council to keep running facilities and pay for costs, but if they wanted to take them on themselves the extra cost would fall on them.”
Caia Park councillors opted to defer any decision until they had full and accurate figures in front of them. The community centres will be discussed once the results of Wrexham Council’s community assets review are known with detailed information on them.
The community council will discuss play areas after more detailed figures are given to them in writing and crossing patrols once Wrexham Council has undertaken a risk assessment.
They also resolved for each community councillor to carry out a survey in their ward to see what services residents want to keep and if they were happy to pay extra for them or not.
Smithfield councillor Keith Gregory said: “The views of the people of Caia need to be listened to.”