Wrexham Council leader refutes claims he misled over Groves costs

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

WREXHAM Council’s leader has refuted claims he misled the public over cash spent maintaining the old Groves school.

Campaigners claim the council has forked out about £250,000 on the now grade-II listed building in Powell Road, but Cllr Mark Pritchard said the actual figure is upwards of £1 million.

Cllr Pritchard said: “I have consistently gone on the record to state the upkeep, maintenance and security of the former Groves has cost Wrexham’s taxpayers more than £1m, and reiterate that this figure is correct.

“Since 2004, more than £650,000 has been spent on repairs, maintenance and utilities at the building.

“From 2012, the council has also spent a further £421,000 on part-demolition, asbestos removal work and other work requested by our insurers.

“This is not at all an act of fabrication on my part – these are figures compiled by qualified, professional officers, who deal with the complexities of the public purse on a daily basis.

“While I certainly respect the right that members of the campaign group have their opinion, it is unfair of them to accuse me of fabrication.

“The amount spent on the Groves thus far is one of the many reasons why we will press the Welsh Government for support in meeting the costs of its future maintenance.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We await contact from Wrexham Council to discuss the future use of the former Grove Park School building.”

Cllr Pritchard said last week that the authority would not be pursuing a second legal challenge to the Powell Road school’s grade-II listed status.

The building was listed by Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government Mark Drakeford in November last year.

At a meeting in December, Wrexham Council’s executive board voted to give authority to Cllr Pritchard, along with council officers, to evaluate whether they had any grounds to challenge this latest listing decision.

Last week, Cllr Pritchard admitted he and fellow executive board members were “bitterly disappointed” at the outcome.

He said it was a hammer blow to their plans for the future of education in Wrexham town centre.

The authority had planned to build two new schools on the site after knocking the old building down.

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