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Wrexham Council turmoil leaves Splash Trust in limbo

Published date: 05 September 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A DECISION to delay a discussion about the future of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre in the wake of the Labour group exodus has left the facility in “no man’s land”.

Chaos behind the scenes at Wrexham Council caused by a split in the Labour group which led to council leader Cllr Neil Rogers and nine other councillors leaving the Labour party meant the cancellation of next week’s executive board meeting.

The approval of a lease allowing the Splash Community Trust to take over the Acrefair centre was expected to be passed at the meeting.

A Labour party source told the Leader a bitter divide in the council’s Labour group over whether to give financial support to the Splash Community Trust was a key factor  in Wednesday’s shock split.

A report into the viability of the business plan put 

together by the Splash Trust in the hope of taking over the  centre was due to be discussed at the meeting.

The trust had been given an October 1 deadline for its bid to take over the facility and as told if it failed to present a viable case for its ability to run the centre before the deadline, then the centre would be bulldozed.

But in the wake of yesterday’s events, a decision was taken to defer discussing the report until next month’s executive board meeting and to extend the trust’s deadline until the end of October

Splash Community Trust secretary Stella Matthews hit out at the delay, saying it left the centre facing an uncertain future.

She said: “I am disappointed the executive board has been cancelled and it seems another long delay when the trust board has important things, including recruitment, to put in place.

“We can’t apply for grants or anything until we actually have the lease so it’s leaving us in no man’s land.”

Mrs Matthews added she understood a draft report compiled by council officers into the viability of the business plan included a recommendation to allow the transfer of the lease to the trust.

Cllr Hugh Jones said yesterday the decision to extend the deadline would allow further time for the consideration of the business plan submitted by the Splash Community Trust.

Cllr Jones said: “I have previously said the council should not place barriers in the way of the Splash Trust. This extension of time allows this transfer to be fully considered by the executive board at its next meeting on October 7.”

On Wednesday, Wrexham Council leader Neil Rogers and nine other members of the Labour group left the party, with one insider saying a disagreement over support for reopening the centre was fundamental in causing the split.

The Leader understands a vote at a private meeting was split 13 to 10 in favour of providing financial support for Splash Community Trust to  take over the facility which closed in April.

Cllr Rogers and the nine others who left the Labour party voted against providing support to the Trust bid to reopen the Acrefair centre, the Leader understands.

Cllr Mark Pritchard, current deputy leader of the council, said on Wednesday discussions were starting behind the scenes to set up a new administration ahead of a full council meeting on September 24, where it is expected a new executive board and council leader will be ratified.

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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