10/17/2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

WREXHAM councillors have vented their frustration after some said they felt left in the dark over key decisions taken by council officials.

It follows calls being made for it to be compulsory for Wrexham Council employees to make politicians aware of any ruling which is likely to have a “severe impact” on their community.

The motion was raised by New Broughton councillor Alan Edwards after he was left angered by the way a planning appeal in his area was dealt with.

Proposals for more than 100 new homes on Gatewen Road in the village were granted on appeal in February via a written decision by the Planning Inspectorate.

Cllr Edwards said he was completely taken by surprise by the announcement after planning officers failed to tell him they had agreed that an inquiry hearing into the application was no longer required.

Speaking at an extraordinary full council meeting held on Wednesday (June 23, 2021), he said: “I felt I had no option other than to fetch this motion to the council following an incident that happened that will have a devastating effect on the ward that I represent and live in and also hundreds of people.

“What I can’t accept is a decision being taken, and then kept secret for seven months.

“The first time I heard about it was through the press and to rub salt in the wounds, I was told no apology was necessary from the people responsible for the actions taken because it was only out of courtesy that members be informed. This to me is wrong.

“It might be the truth, and they might have done nothing wrong, in which case I think the procedures need tightening because it needs to be prevented from happening again.”

His concerns were echoed by Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers, who claimed a lack of transparency had hit public confidence in the local authority.

He said: “When I was elected in 2008, there was a basic principle that local members would be kept informed about issues within their wards.

“Over the years this has been eroded and this lack of courtesy and protocol has led to a perception by the public that there is no transparency.

“The public have lost confidence in the system. They expect their elected representatives to be kept informed of the matters which effect their wards, and this isn’t always happening.”

However, some councillors leapt to the defence of officers and said it was elected representatives who needed to change their behaviour.

They included executive board member Andrew Atkinson, who said he would not be supporting the motion.

He said: “It’s not a motion that I like at all to be quite honest with you – I think our officers are very good.

“Things will go wrong from time to time, but I’ve never really had any issues as an elected member on this sort of thing.

“I’m more concerned about how we as councillors speak to and treat officers.

“If we should be using the code of conduct, we should be citing it to each other to remind ourselves about the fact that this relationship would be a lot more harmonious if we were more respectful of officers.”

Deputy council leader David A Bithell suggested an alternative way forward by asking for a protocol to be developed to ensure clear communication between councillors and officers.

The amendment was supported by 27 votes to five with seven abstentions.

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