Decision to demolish former Groves High School in Wrexham is 'undemocratic'

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to demolish a former school has been slammed as being “undemocratic”.

Wrexham’s Liberal Democrat councillors were defeated last week in their attempt to have the authority’s executive board reconsider the decision to demolish the former Groves High School.

A motion to ‘call-in’ the decison was narrowly defeated – by six votes to five – by the customer and performance scrutiny committee.

Group leader Carole O’Toole, whose ward includes the Groves, said: “I am very disappointed that our attempt to secure proper consultation with the public on this issue has been defeated.

“There is a great deal of concern throughout Wrexham, not only about the decision to demolish, but also about the undemocratic way in which this decision was made.”

MP Ian Lucas said Wrexham and its council were being brought “into disrepute” by the decision to demolish the building without consultation.

Mr Lucas has also set up a petition on the UK Parliament petitions website opposing the decision and is urging constituents to sign.

The decision to demolish the Groves building was taken late last month at an executive board meeting. 

Just a few days’ notice was given of the proposal, and no public consultation was undertaken ahead of the executive board vote.

Mr Lucas has been a vocal critic of the plans and has met with campaigners who oppose the demolition.

He wrote to the council’s head of corporate and customer services, Trevor Coxon, to make clear he opposed the plans as they could be ruled to be against the council’s constitution. In his reply, Mr Coxon disputed this and suggested the proposals needed to be brought forward under health and safety grounds.

However, in a further letter to the council, Mr Lucas states: “I appreciate that you have to act on instructions and do not, therefore, intend to engage in protracted correspondence.

“I want you to be clear, however, that I do not accept any of the reasoning you put forward.

“In particular, I think it is indefensible for the executive board to have made the decision to demolish without public consultation and I do not accept that there is a ‘significant and imminent’ health and safety issue.

“The latter description is not even included in the report to the executive board which made the decision and appeared out of thin air in your letter. 

“I will continue to oppose this dreadful decision, which I believe is bringing Wrexham and its council into disrepute.”

Mr Lucas added: “The council are acting in an inexplicably heavy-handed manner on this issue.

“There seems to be a rush to demolish the Groves, and the main grounds put forward to me by officers – which are health and safety concerns – would not appear to have changed materially in the past decade the building has been empty.

“I will continue to work with campaigners who want the council to consult with the public on this issue – and I would urge people to add their names to the petition on the UK Parliament website.”

The petition can be found at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/119801

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