‘Scrooge’ council blamed as festive event called off

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WREXHAM Council has been branded a “Scrooge” for blocking efforts to stage a major Christmas charity event in the town centre.

Hotelier and Chamber of Tourism and Trade chairman Stephanie Booth was planning to host a day-long entertainment extravaganza to raise much-needed money for Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham.

But she claims the council put so many obstacles in her path that she reluctantly decided to scrap the event at the last minute.

Mrs Booth said: “The previous Saturday my company arranged a similar event in Llangollen, with a full day of entertainment rounded off by a firework display, which raised £8,000 for Nightingale House.

“We wanted to do the same thing in Wrexham town centre last Saturday and we reckoned if we could raise that amount in Llangollen we could make at least £12,000 for the hospice in a much larger town.

“But there were all kinds of problems with the council.

“They wouldn’t give permission to close High Street for the day, they wouldn’t allow us to collect for Nightingale House because they had already given a collection permit to Hope House Hospice for Saturday, they wouldn’t allow us to sell alcohol and they even wanted to charge us £47 an hour for an electrician to plug all our equipment into their power supply.

“We were told we couldn’t use High Street because it is under consideration for bringing the buses back but we only wanted it for one day.

“When we realised we couldn’t hold the event in High Street, we checked out Queens Square but we couldn’t fit all our equipment, including a 60ft stage, in there.

“We had everything planned, including having all the tickets printed and full-page adverts booked in the Leader.

“But when we ran into so many problems we had to cancel.

“This is a real pity because we were going to have entertainment, including the cast of the panto Snow White at the Stiwt in Rhos and its star, Sonia, who was with us for the Llangollen event.

“We would also have involved local schools and community groups and the whole thing would have had a real feel-good factor to it.”

Mrs Booth added: “You could say the council has acted like Scrooge.

“We talk to towns all over the area, such as Whitchurch and Oswestry, about holding events and there’s never any problem.

“It’s only when you get to Wrexham that there’s a problem.”

Town centre manager Isobel Watson said: “Wrexham Chamber of Trade and Tourism approached the authority a couple of weeks ago with the suggestion of closing the High Street to accommodate a charity event for Nightingale House.

“This request was of course considered but could not be accommodated because of the distruption it would cause on what is likely to be the busiest shopping week of the year. The council was prepared to accommodate the event on Queens Square and in this instance, because of the charitable nature of the event, was prepared to waive a number of its usual charges including electrical supply and connection.

“The decision not to proceed is entirely that of the Chamber of Trade and Tourism and Wrexham County Borough Council is hugely disappointed that this decision has been made.”

Mrs Watson added that some of the entertainers booked by the chamber for event had independently approached the council requesting to perform on the day.

As a result there was a recital of Christmas carols by Wrexham School Band in the afternoon and a range of children’s rides along with Santa’s grotto.

She added: “The council look forward to working with the Chamber of Trade and Tourism in the future, particularly during the forthcoming Wrexham Year of Culture.”
 

See full story in the Leader

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