Common myths about local government

When it comes to public services, it’s not easy to know who does what.

Which means people sometimes think their council is responsible for stuff they have no control over.

Here are five common myths cleared up (at least we think they’re common myths)…

1. They own all the shops

In Wrexham (and most other towns and cities) the vast majority of shops – including the big ones – are owned by commercial landlords. They set the rent and decide who to rent them to.

Unless there’s a legislative reason like planning or building regs, councils have very little say in what commercial landlords do with their premises.

2. They own all the car-parks

In Wrexham, the council owns a lot of car parks – mostly in the town centre – but some are privately managed.

We only decide the parking rates for our own car parks, which include Waterworld, Wrexham Library and St Giles.

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3. They’re in charge of business rates

Nope. It’s easy to understand why people think councils control business rates, but they’re actually set by the Valuation Office – a national government agency.

In Wales, councils collect the money from local businesses and pay it into a central pool. Central government then shares it back out among councils to help pay for public services.

4. They do all the roadworks

In most places, motorways and major roads like the A483 (Wrexham bypass) are maintained by the regional or national trunk road agency.

We kid you not…councils usually don’t manage these big arterial roads. But they do look after most of the others in their patch, including A and B roads.

5. They love red-tape

Well…this one is open for debate.

It’s probably true that councils can be very bureaucratic, but sometimes they don’t have any choice.

Legislation and other obligations mean they have to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.

And some-times ‘red-tape’ just means ‘doing things properly.’

On the other hand, there’s no doubt councils could be quicker and leaner with some of their processes, and we’re always working hard to try and make things easier for our customers.

So there you go – five common myths about councils…busted.

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