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North Wales Politics Wrexham

Wrexham Council leader says members will have free vote on Local Development Plan

MEMBERS of the largest group on Wrexham Council will be free to vote for or against the county’s Local Development Plan when the time comes, its leader has said.

Producing a Local Development Plan (LDP) is a requirement of local authorities by the Welsh Government.

Years in the making, Wrexham’s will allocate sites where around 8,000 homes could be built in the county borough, and the plan is also examined by the government and an independent planning inspectorate before being deemed sound for approval.

Neighbouring Flintshire Council adopted its LDP in January, after a full council vote which saw a member of the ruling Labour group vote against his party on principle, having campaigned against one of the allocated sites being included in the plan.

Wrexham Council’s LDP is expected to be presented as ready for adoption soon and will go in front of its executive board first before being presented at full council for all 56 councillors to have a final vote.

Speaking at a media briefing, leader of the council and the Independent group which rules the authority in coalition with the Conservative group, Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard said no pressure will be applied to members when the time comes to decide on whether to adopt the plan.

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Cllr Mark Pritchard

He said: “There is not a whip in the independent group. Never has been, never will be.

“We have a free vote on everything, we don’t have whips on votes and everybody from the Independent group is entitled to vote on the night, any way they want. I think that’s important.

“With regards to my voting, I will keep my opinion to myself until the night and I think that’s important and I think most members will do that.

“Some members have come out and made it very clear where they’re going to vote and I respect that too, but I’ll be keeping my decision until the night.

“But if I think we have to come out publicly to say things I will and there might be a reason for that to happen during this process before it gets to full council.”

Cllr Pritchard pointed to the lack of support for a previous iteration of the plan which earmarked a Gypsy and Traveller at Alyn Waters Country Park in Llay before it was removed.

He said: “We made it very clear that we wouldn’t support that and I’m pleased that the inspector made a decision after to take that allocation out of the plan.

“It’s got to go through due process, the executive board then full council and everybody’s entitled to their opinion on it and vote on it.”

There are 56 seats on Wrexham Council representing 47 wards. The authority is led by a coalition of 22 Independent group councillors and nine Conservatives.

The largest opposition group is Labour with 14 councillors, followed by Plaid Cymru with nine councillors.

The other two councillors are both independents, not aligned to any group or political party.

Cllr Pritchard added: “I hope other parties allow their members a free vote but that’s not in my gift. I hope the 56 councillors have a free vote on the night.

“It’s a free vote and that’s how it should be.”