CALLS have been made for a new strategy to tackle drug taking and anti-social behaviour in and around Wrexham town centre.

It comes as Wrexham Council has performed a U-turn on plans to scrap Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) covering both the main shopping area and Rhosddu, which have been affected by crime in recent years.

A report was due to go before the authority’s ruling executive board next month with a recommendation not to renew the orders despite them being in force for the last three years.

It would have seen council staff and police lose the power to issue fixed penalties of £100 for anti-social behaviour, such as drinking, drug taking, sleeping rough and littering.

However, it has now been revealed that leading councillors are likely to create a new order when they meet to discuss the issue after community leaders voiced their concerns.

The reversal was revealed by Plaid Cymru’s Marc Jones, who represents the Grosvenor ward, which covers a large part of the town centre as well as Rhosddu, following a meeting with the council’s deputy leader.

He praised the move by Cllr Hugh Jones, but also called on the executive board to come up with a wider plan to address the problems.

He said: “Despite the gap, as the current PSPO runs out on July 31st, this sudden U-turn is welcome news.

“A new PSPO gives us the chance to make sure it works better for the community and there was also a welcome apology that Rhosddu had not been properly consulted over the withdrawal of the park and cemetery PSPO in March 2019.

“The wider issue that needs tackling is the rise in illegal drugs and anti-social behaviour on our streets. The PSPO alone won’t do that.

“What is needed is a more comprehensive strategy to ensure people who want detox and rehab do not have to wait weeks and months but can access immediately; that adequate housing is available to get people off the streets and we have a functioning mental health service to tackle the problems many of those on the streets have.”

Wrexham Council has been asked to comment on the latest development.

Speaking previously, Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for communities, partnerships, public protection and community safety, said the council and other bodies were looking at more targeted ways of dealing with anti-social behaviour which are not covered by a PSPO.

He said: “Our work in recent years shows that PSPOs are only one element of responding to the issues of anti-social behaviour raised in the town centre, and enforcement alone is not enough to deal with these matters.

“The recent work of the Gold Group – a multi-agency partnership which provides prompt, targeted and relevant support to those in need to help turn their often dysfunctional lives around – contributed to a 43 per cent drop in anti-social behaviour in Wrexham town centre.

“Working alongside police, health services and the appropriate support and rehabilitation agencies, we have made significant progress in recent years and it is vital that this positive work continues.”