Welcome to the invisible Wrexham estate...

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WELCOME to the community that doesn’t exist.

Residents of this huge housing estate say their homes are invisible to vital services because they do not show up on sat-nav systems.

And they are facing “life or death” delays because emergency crews are having trouble finding them.

Some properties on the 500-home development at the former Brymbo steelworks site have been occupied for nearly three years.

But Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers says he has received complaints from worried householders reporting crime and calling the emergency services.

He said: “I have had one example where a resident of the development had called for an ambulance but was told the paramedics had to waste precious minutes trying to find them, which could be the difference between life and death.

“This issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency for both the public and employees.”

Cllr Rogers has now raised residents’ concerns with the emergency services and Wrexham Council, which works with organisations on emergency planning in the area.

He said: “It is clear Wrexham Council’s planning department forwards information about new housing developments to the emergency services and Ordnance Survey.

“However, it is possible that satellite navigation systems which are being depended on have not yet received the appropriate update.

“Having to rely on periodic updates is clearly going to leave room for error and is certainly not fair on the employee who then has to respond to the incident.”

He added: “Wales had already fallen behind England with regards to introducing sat-nav systems. Now they are in use it is clear there is still room for improvement.”

Lawrence Isted, Wrexham Council’s chief planning officer, said all new approved street names and numbers, including updated plans, are sent to the emergency services, Royal Mail headquarters and the Ordnance Survey and that the Brymbo development has been sent.

But he said: “The emergency services, as far as I am aware, have their own command and control system using their own data and maps.

“We provide updates to these services as soon as they occur and it is then up to the services how quickly their systems are updated.

“They also take feeds from Ordnance Survey, but unlike our updates, run into the same delays as the sat-nav companies.”

Mr Isted said all local authorities in England and Wales maintain a land and property gazetteer containing every road and property.

Changes to information for Wrexham was updated to a national hub on a daily basis.

He added: “An all-Wales project team is currently in discussion with police and fire about taking a direct feed from the gazetteer, dispensing with the requirement to supply individual updates.

“We are hoping to carry out a trial, initially with South Wales Police and South Wales Fire and Rescue services, once we have agreement and changes to their infrastructure can be implemented.”

See full story in the Leader

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