WREXHAM Council’s leadership has responded to challenges to open up the city’s Nine Acre Field, amid concern its future is still to be resolved.

Acton and Maesydre Councillor Becca Martin (Plaid), whose ward the land is in, claims the council’s leadership has failed to keep people updated on plans for the site after proposals to build a primary school on it were rejected summer.

Last autumn plans for it to become a public park were mooted by the council, but the site remains gated and out of bounds to the public.

The council’s leader, Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard (Ind) and deputy leader, Johnstown and Pant Cllr David A Bithell (Ind), say progress is being made behind the scenes, but due process is being followed towards the aim of making it a publicly open park.

Cllr Martin said: "It's now nine months since the planning application for a new school on the site was rejected by the planning committee.

“It's seven months since the ruling Tory-Independent coalition made a commitment to protecting Nine Acre Field as a green space.

“Back in October the council leader Mark Pritchard stated 'we propose to take a report to the Executive Board later this year with our plans to support and build on what we have achieved over a number of years protecting open spaces.'

"Later this year was in 2022. So why are we still not seeing any movement?

"I have contacted the leader of the council directly three times asking for the field to be opened to the public and for updates that I can pass on to residents."

The Leader: Cllr Becca Martin at Nine Acre FieldCllr Becca Martin at Nine Acre Field (Image: Plaid Cymru)

Cllr Martin added: "I've had very little in the way of response back from him other than an inference that the responsibilities lie with officers.

“Do I need to remind him that it was he and the ruling coalition that publicly made these promises through the media that they now seem unable to keep?

"Residents have been left in limbo for far too long now without answers and it's our duty as a council to work with them and for them to provide amenities.

"In an area where there is a deficit of green space, keeping such an area behind a locked gate for so long without any proper reasoning is unfair and unacceptable.

"It's time to let the children play, it is time to let the dogs walk, activities to flourish. It’s time to open up this space to residents who bring it alive with activity once again."

The site is currently under responsibility of the council’s education department, but according to the council’s leadership the plan is still for it to become a park.

The Leader: Cllr Mark PritchardCllr Mark Pritchard

Speaking at a media briefing Cllr Mark Pritchard ruled out any development on the site and said: “We’ve made clear what we want to do with reference to a park and we have to follow due process as a council which all elected members are fully aware of.

“There is an internal process. That process is ongoing. Then what will happen is a report comes to the executive board to transfer the land from A to B.”

He also rebuffed claims at a lack of communication about the site’s future.

“That is not true, I’ve spoken to officers and asked them to reply”, he said.

“I have replied saying we have got to follow due process.

“We’ve made a decision politically within the alliance that it will be a park and that’s where we are on it.”

Chief Executive Ian Bancroft added: “We need to look at our assets in the round and consider how we use key strategic sites, the Groves, Nine-Acre, we’re going through a review of our strategic asset management plan at the moment.”

Deputy Leader, Cllr David A Bithell said that the authority would not be pressured as it followed internal processes.

“We’ve had lots of emails from lots of members about taking the fences down, opening it up, saying the fences are not adequate, people are climbing over", he said.

“We’re really trying to follow the process which is quite clear on assets – the land falls within education, there is a process to follow and if it’s surplus to requirements with education which we believe it is, it has to go through the internal process.

“Members are fully aware of the process and ultimately it’s a decision on change of use. At that time we can start looking at what we need to do, and that might include taking the fences down, consultation with local residents about out aspirations to open it up as a park but that takes time.

“Unfortunately we’ve got lots of people asking lots of questions on assets and to be fair to our assets team, they’re really struggling to cope with the demand for queries, questions and their doing their best under difficult circumstances to address everyone’s concerns.

“We will not jeopardise the processes by pressure being applied politically.”