ACTION must be taken to protect the public on a number of roads in the centre of Wrexham.

That is the view of Inspector Luke Hughes, following a collision over the weekend which saw a crashed car spewing oil onto the pavement and road.

Inspector Hughes has called for Abbott Street, High Street and Town Hill to be made "off limits" to vehicles in the evening.

Signage in place states that currently, traffic is not permitted on High Street - with the exception of buses and loading.

Town Hill and Abbott Street operate on a one-way system for motor vehicles, with 30 minute parking permitted in a limited number of spaces, as well as some spaces designated for disabled badge holders and loading.

The Leader sat down with the Inspector and Wrexham Community Beat manager PC Sarah Hughes-Jones to find out why such a measure is needed and how the current system may pose risks to members of the public.

We also spoke with businesses in the affected area, as well as seeking the views of our readers and Wrexham Council, in order to have a deeper look at the issue.

Here's what we found out...

What is the situation at the moment and how is it dangerous?
The Leader: PC Sarah Hughes JonesPC Sarah Hughes Jones

PC Hughes-Jones explained: "The main problem we have in the town is the volume of traffic, definitely.

"Traffic goes through all night - predominantly boy racers, but there are also taxi drivers, delivery drivers and people who are just dropping off and picking up.

"We definitely see a higher risk for the night time economy clientele who are out on the town.

"We have a higher level of intoxicated people not being aware of the green cross code, at the very least.

"With the logistics of some venues we have people coming out and being about a metre from the main road.

"That doesn't give much scope if there's an incident brewing; we have people on the cusp of the highway.

The Leader: The scene of the weekend collisionThe scene of the weekend collision

"With the incident on Saturday, that corner is a hotspot for people gathering to get food if they've been out for drinks and also for more vulnerable members of our community.

"It was purely by luck that nobody was there on this night.

"We're constantly getting complaints about people going the wrong way.

"With an incident of disorder a few weeks ago, there was some backlog of traffic - and as opposed to being patient and waiting, some drivers opted to go the wrong way down Town Hill to get around it.

"It's a complete lack of respect by drivers.

"We receive complaints that people come the wrong way in Hope Street, High Street, Town Hill, Abbott Street - we can't man the four points that bring drivers onto High Street.

Are we in a 'culture of complacency'?

The Leader: The scene at Town Hill/Abbott Street after the collision over the weekend. Image: North Wales PoliceThe scene at Town Hill/Abbott Street after the collision over the weekend. Image: North Wales Police

That was one suggestion put forward by PC Hughes-Jones.

She explained: "A bit of a culture has been created throughout covid.

"People have become complacent with regards to their manner of driving and parking their vehicles.

"We probably have more delivery drivers active now, post-covid, and that's certainly added to the volume of traffic.

"Because people have always driven through the town, they're now doing it at a faster rate and more disrespectfully."

Insp Hughes said: "We do have a culture now of people just assuming they can drive down the high street - they absolutely can not and should not.

"They park on High Street - on either side of the road. They absolutely should not do, but they do.

"We acknowledge that the signage can be confusing as to where you can and cannot go.

"But when I was in the town 20 years ago, you wouldn't see any cars on there.

"Slowly but surely it seems to be accepted that people can drive there and park where they want."

What needs to happen?
The Leader: Insp Luke HughesInsp Luke Hughes

Insp Hughes said: "The town centre is a very real area of concern and it is very important that we get it right.

"We're soon to be a city centre, and it has to be a safe place for members of the public, businesses, officers and people to visit and enjoy.

"I genuinely think there needs to be work done locally to try and improve this, and I feel that to engineer out the problem [posed by traffic in Town Hill, High Street and Abbott Street] would be the safest option for all."

The Inspector said other large towns and cities have installed bollards which can be raised and lowered as a means of controlling traffic flow in high-footfall areas.

"I think we are at a point where we really need to consider a similar sort of design in the city centre," he continued.

"It's not an easy thing to achieve and I get that - I understand the council is in a difficult place.

"But this incident on Saturday, if anyone had been sat there, there's no question there would have been serious injuries.

READ MORE: "We need to act" - Wrexham Inspector's call for evening road closures to vehicles

"We don't want humps and bumps and chicanes - we want to make it flat and leave it well planted, but use natural features to make it safer."

Inspector Hughes said he has liaised with Wrexham Council over his concerns.

He added: "I do know they are looking at an entire 'top-to-bottom' review of the town centre.

"I think that's definitely due and I applaud them for that.

"But I need something in the short term. I need something now - to make it safe for people to enjoy the summer."

The need for 'exploratory talks'
The Leader: Cllr Phil WynnCllr Phil Wynn

Brynyffynnon county councillor Phil Wynn told the Leader: "I have agreed to meet with the other adjacent local members and the Inspector - we will have to review his request.

"It is just a case of finding out whether it is deliverable and to explore whether there are any unforeseen consequences of shutting the road which need to be thought through.

"We will talk through those and that could then be taken to the next stage, but we do need to have those exploratory talks.

"It doesn't make sense to have cars driving through the night scene, at the weekends particularly.

"If that can be resolved it would make sense - and if that involves road closures that is definitely something we need to review with our highways officers, the police and affected businesses."

What do business owners think about closing the streets to traffic at night?
The Leader: The Sweet Life, in Town HillThe Sweet Life, in Town Hill

Levi Brentnall, 29-year-old owner of The Sweet Life in Town Hill, said: "It would cripple us as a business - and it would cripple other businesses on this road.

"For delivery drivers, this road is essential. If businesses close here, they are not going to come back."

He added passing traffic also offers more visibility for his and other businesses on the road, adding that risks to pedestrians and pubgoers could be mitigated by the installation of barriers or bollards at the pavement's edge.

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"A pelican crossing would be good up here," he said.

Another business owner in Town Hill, who did not want to be named, said: "It needs a lot more safety measures.

"People are always coming round here the wrong way and boy racers use it as a racetrack.

"I would block it at night - but you can't because of the taxi ranks.

"I think the main offenders aren't idiots taking shortcuts, they are people who don't know the area and the layout of the town."

Steven Vale, owner of Caroline's Viennese Patisserie in the town, said he agreed "100%" with the Inspector's suggestion to close the roads to traffic in the evening.

He explained: "The night time economy is one of Wrexham's biggest assets and it needs to be protected.

"You can't have boy racers up and down at night when people have been drinking."

Mr Vale said he felt if the closures came in, families would feel safer to stay out later in the evening and enjoy the nightlife.

A publican in Abbott Street, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It would be best to close it to traffic at night - people really race down here and someone's going to get hurt or killed.

"It's horrendous."

What do our readers think?
The Leader: High StreetHigh Street

Several people took to the Leader's social media pages to have their say on the suggestion of evening traffic restrictions.

Steve Gittins said: "Good idea. The road layout right across Wrexham needs to be rethought, given the increase in people living in the town centre and the increase in parking."

Matthew Sides said: "Isn’t there a taxi office and several food delivery firms on them roads? The reason there’s evening issues is drunk pedestrians - try fixing that."

Paula Ellis said: "I’m a taxi driver, one of our offices is located on Abbott street. You can not close that road off completely… Yes I agree the oil spill from the collision caused all sorts of problems so maybe shut the road to all traffic except taxi drivers!"

@Ranger_Smiff said: "High/ Chester/ Lambpit / Queens / Henblas / Hope Streets and Upper Town Hill are 'pedestrianised' areas - note the collection of massive signs, no excuse for not seeing them.

"They need bollards and North Wales Police enforcement, but open 8am to 12pm for deliveries / blue badge users / etc."

What has Wrexham Council said about the issue?

Cllr Paul Roberts, lead member for partnerships and community safety, said: “This has been raised with me by Inspector Hughes.

"I will be arranging a further meeting with the police along with the chief officer for environment and technical and local members Cllr Marc Jones and Cllr Phil Wynn to progress actions to address his concerns and see how road safety in the area can be improved.”