Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 22/10/04

Kick It Into Touch!

Oh dear. I'm going to get a reputation if I'm not careful.

What with my remarks at "Opportunities To Be Knocked" and "Privateers Repelled!", and a few snide remarks here and there, some of you may be thinking that I have something against Wrexham County Borough Council.

Well, I mean, better poor democracy than none at all, but goodness knows they ask for what my friend Dylan of the band Hecate Enthroned calls "a damn good slapping".

For years now, the Council has been forever pleading poverty. "We can't fill in great big potholes in the road because we haven't any money!"; "We can't give the kids somewhere safe to play because we haven't any money!"; and, of course, "We're going to try to con you into voting to privatise your own homes because we haven't any money to bring them up to standard!"

Whine, whinge, wibble.

And yet, there has always been money for some things.

Like spending hundreds of thousands on tarting up parts of the town centre, especially (for reasons I can't possibly imagine) those parts which happen to be visible from the windows of the Council's executive offices, while other areas of the town centre lie derelict for years.

Like turning three or four flourishing secondary schools into two gigantic 'superschools', a project which has now gone horrendously over budget and seriously behind schedule.

Like planning to have a gigantic modern sculpture of a harp slap bang in the middle of the roundabout on the western approach to the town (luckily, this one was laughed out of existence before one of those simpering con-merchants known as 'modern artists' was engaged to do the deed).

And now comes the latest madness.

Wrexham Football Club is, not to mince words, up Shit Creek. It has been bought by a speculating asset-stripper from the Outer Darkness (or 'Cheshire', to give it its official name), who wants to sell off the club's home, The Racecourse Ground, because it would be worth a pretty penny for redevelopment for the sort of housing that local people couldn't possibly afford. This, of course, is very worrying to those who think that football matters, a group to which I once belonged, before I allowed myself to grow cynical, or rather, grow up.

So, supposedly to pre-empt this fate, the multi-brained Executive Board of Wrexham County Borough Council have now decided that they will bid to buy the stadium...at an estimated cost to the taxpayer (that's me, folks) of £1.5million.

Just to put this into perspective: the same Council claims that the housing budget is currently in deficit to the tune of £1.2million, and that estate offices will have to be closed, services cut back and repairs and renovations not carried out in order to get back on track.

And this self-same organisation now wants to spend much more than that on buying a football ground! £1.5million of public money spent on bailing out a failing private company which employs only a few dozen people; whereas local small business are crucified by the business rates and the all-too-often obstructive behaviour of the Council, and local communities are starved of funds because, so they claim, there is no money available.

"Ah, but", say the muddled mandarins, "we'll also be looking for funding from the National Assembly and other public bodies!" And where, pray, do they get their money from? Yep. Us.

So we are being forced to pay taxes to prop up a football club which, if its weekly attendances are any guide, is actively supported by only a tiny minority of those whose taxes will be used.

Please don't misunderstand me on this: I don't want to see the football club go under. But it simply is not the place of a taxpayer-funded body to go chucking our money at a football club at a time when there is, according to those doing the chucking, insufficient properly to perform the statutory duties which are a council's proper function.

The local hack-rag is, of course, totally behind this idiocy, and even the otherwise-rational Assembly Member Dr. John Marek is supporting it. And I daresay that anyone who speaks out publicly against it will be deemed traitorous to the cause, such being the ludicrous passions stirred up by a lot of men kicking concentrated wind in a field.

I've no doubt it'll go through, but I've equally no doubt that the Council have forfeited what little right they still had to whinge about being strapped for cash when it comes to providing the things which matter.