Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Campaigners hoping to prevent a historic corn mill from being sold have voiced their anger after bidders were encouraged to travel to the area for viewings.
The invitation for people to visit the 18th century King’s Mill, in Wrexham, comes despite the Welsh Government strongly advising that virtual viewings should take place if possible under the current coronavirus restrictions.
Wrexham Council is looking to sell the former visitor centre, which has stood empty since 2012, to save on maintenance costs.
Members of the Melin y Brenin Community Group say their proposals to turn the property into a community hub have been ignored by the local authority.
They have now expressed their dismay after discovering prospective new owners have been invited to see it in person by Manchester-based auctioneers Landwood Property Auctions.
An e-mail posted on the Save King’s Mill For the Local Community Facebook page shows viewing slots have been offered on Friday (February 26, 2021).
In response, the group said: “We’ve just had an email from their Manchester based auctioneers encouraging people to travel to Wrexham to view Kingsmill on Friday.
“Even Welsh Government guidance states that virtual viewings should happen in the first instance.
“We can’t get in our cars and drive to Kingsmill to go for a walk in Erddig but the council can encourage people to travel here from across the UK so they can make a profit from a building they were given for nothing?!
“There is absolutely no reason to have this auction in the middle of a pandemic.”
The mill was used as a visitor centre during the 1990s after being gifted to the council by former Erddig estate owner Philip Yorke.
The building is due to go under the hammer on March 24 with a minimum opening bid of £155,000 being invited.
Government guidance in relation to property viewings states that virtual viewings should be held wherever possible.
However, physical viewings can still take place during alert level 4 as long as household mixing is avoided.
Guidance issued by the auctioneers states: “Only two households, including the viewing agent if they need to enter, will be admitted to the property at any time.
“Any attendees at the viewing must agree to queue outside in accordance with current social distancing guidance and follow the directions of the viewing agent who will co-ordinate all party’s entry and exit.
“They will do their best to ensure all parties have a reasonable amount of time in the property and this relies on you agreeing to be considerate and spend no longer than is necessary inside.”
They added viewings would be conducted in line with government guidance “as far as possible”.
Wrexham Council has been asked to comment on the concerns raised by the community group.