Councillor hits out in games area lease row


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A ROW has erupted over the lease of a games area to a community council.

Cllr Joan Lowe, who sits on Penycae and Ruabon community councils as well as Wrexham Council’s executive board, branded fellow executive board members “hypocrites” and accused them of “holding a gun” to the community council over the lease of Penycae’s Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA).

A recommendation was approved by executive board members at yesterday’s meeting which means the community council has had to take on responsibility for the upkeep of land surrounding the MUGA, which is currently in need of repairs.

Cllr Lowe said a grant had been secured to carry out repairs, but had called for a decision on responsibility for the land to be deferred to a later date.

A delay in a decision on whether to take over the MUGA and the adjoining land could see the grant being withdrawn.

But the amendment was refused and a recommendation authorising council officers to negotiate and conclude terms for a full repair and insurance lease of the MUGA and adjoining land was passed by a margin of seven votes to three.

If the community council does not agree to take on the land as well as the MUGA, the facility could be dismantled and the land disposed of.

Cllr Lowe said: “What they are doing is holding a gun to our heads.

“This small piece of land is no bigger than someone’s back garden.

“It is so short-sighted. An area with such deprivation needs these facilities to give children something to do.

“This financial year we have taken over the funding for the community centre, we are paying for two school crossing patrols because it is split over two sites and we are funding our playgrounds.

“When you take on all that in one year and you put up your precept, the community is paying for it as well as their council tax.

“I just find it hypocritical.”

Penycae councillor John Phillips added: “Youths in the village have absolutely nowhere to go and the MUGA could help alleviate a lot of anti-social behaviour that we have.

“We just need a little bit of help here.”

But Wrexham Council lead member for policy, finance, performance and governance, Cllr Malcolm King, said: “I have huge sympathy for what you are saying about supporting a community that has deprivation and providing sports facilities plays a big part in that.

“However, lead members feel that really it just does not make sense to allow that to happen but keep a bit of land around it which we would have to maintain when we are trying to reduce the bill for maintaining buildings and land.

“I appreciate Penycae community council does not really want to take on extra responsibility but the overall view of lead members when we discussed it was that it needs to go as a whole.”

The executive board approved the recommendation that if the community council does not agree to the lease of the whole area, the MUGA will be removed and the land retained in Wrexham Council ownership.

Cllrs Joan Lowe, David A. Bithell and Carole O’Toole voted against the recommendations.

See full story in the Leader

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