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Tŷ Pawb to remain under council control despite financial impact of Covid-19

A MARKET and arts centre in Wrexham looks set to remain under council management for the foreseeable future.

It follows income streams such as parking fees and venue hire charges drying up at Tŷ Pawb since last March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The running of the facility in the former People’s Market building was expected to be handed to a trust when it first opened in April 2018 on the advice of consultants.

However, Wrexham Council’s executive board voted to keep it under the local authority’s control for at least three years.

That period now looks likely to be extended further due to the impact the pandemic has had on the centre’s finances.

A report which is due to be presented to councillors next week states: “It is essential for Tŷ Pawb to strengthen its business model by adopting an integrated business approach before considering an alternative delivery model.

“The original plan dated 2019 – 2024 indicated that various delivery models with the potential of independence from WCBC would be considered within three years.

“The onset of Covid has impacted this greatly, and it is our belief that recovery and growth needs to happen before we consider an alternative delivery mechanism.

“Any changes to the governance model such as an alternative delivery vehicle could take up to 24 months to implement.

“It is therefore a priority of the advisory board to consider the future governance of Tŷ Pawb during this year; and to make recommendations to Wrexham Council regarding this by April 2022.”

During the 2019/20 financial year, the centre’s budget was overspent by approximately £88,000, partly due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures at the end of the year.

In the last financial year, Tŷ Pawb saw an underspend of just under £24,000 as officials were able to claim government grants to offset the lost income.

Projections for this year show it is likely to suffer a loss of £100,000, although there are hopes it will again be able to be able to recoup some of the money.

The predicted loss has been blamed on more people working from home or using other council-owned car parks to benefit from a scheme which offers free parking after 11am.

The report states: “Based on a normal year we wouldn’t expect such an overspend, these are unprecedented times.

“We expect to be in the economic recovery phase for the next 12 – 18 months as indicated by Welsh Government.

“Once we enter the growth phase we expect to resume more normal practices in terms of income generation.”

The operational plan for Tŷ Pawb will be considered by members of the council’s employment, business and investment scrutiny committee at a meeting on Tuesday (June 8, 2021).

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