Cash seized from criminals has been used to create an outdoor gym in a park in Chirk.
The equipment was installed at the Recreation Ground after the grant was given to the town council by the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin.
The money came from the Your Community Your Choice fund which is used to recycle the ill-gotten gains of criminals for the benefit of communities across the region.
The initiative is a partnership between Mr Dunbobbin, the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police.
Half the money is contributed by the commissioner with the rest coming in the form of cash confiscated from criminals via the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The town council received £2,500 to pay for two pieces of kit – one to exercise the upper body and the other one for the legs.
Karen Brown, the clerk of the town council, said: “When the Covid pandemic hit, all the gyms and leisure centres closed and it was identified that this grant money could be used for adults to let off some steam and get some exercise.
“It a free outdoor amenity that can be accessed by all members of the community to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing..
“We have received a further £5,500 in donations from the Chirk Newsletter to extend this project and provide further equipment.”
“We are extremely grateful to the PCC because without this funding we wouldn’t have been able to start this project.
“There’s a bit of poetic justice going on here as well because a lot of the money’s come from money seized from criminals, so it’s recycling bad money for community benefit.”
Council chair Frank Hemmings added: “It’s great to see that the proceeds of crime are coming back to help the community which sends out a good message that crime doesn’t pay.”
“The outdoor gym has also future-proofed the community under the Future Generations and Well-Being Act, helping to provide everyone with a free to use form of exercise.
“The lack of access to a gym or leisure centre because of cost is a leading cause of increasing obesity so this equipment is a big help.
“Providing the community with this equipment has provided focus and help avoid increases in anti-social behaviour, domestic violence and self-harm.”
The council’s extensive network of 13 CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) are also playing an important role in the fight against crime.
According to Cllr Hemming, they were now providing the North Wales Police with a laptop so they can have remote access to the footage shot by the cameras, rather than having to visit the council offices which were not always open.
The council work closely with PCSO Martin Griffiths who supported their bid for cash from the Your Community Your Choice fund.
He said: “Having access to cameras and being able to download the images remotely will make life a lot easier for everybody concerned and speed the whole process up.”
Andy Dunbobbin said: “The project in Chirk is another great example of money that’s been seized from criminals being used for really positive community benefit.
“It’s right in the middle of the village so it’s easily accessible for everybody.
“The outdoor equipment is likely to appeal to those aged 17 or over and it’s like going to the gym without having to pay the monthly subscription.”
It was a sentiment endorsed by PACT project manager Dave Evans.
He said: “What’s wonderful about the equipment that our funding has helped to buy is the fact that it’s open to all ages, from young people to older residents, who’ve got the opportunity to get out in the fresh air after the dreadful 20 months that we’ve just endured.
“The good work that goes in communities across Wales never ceases to impress me and I applaud Chirk Town Council for coming up with this excellent initiative.”
Mr Dunbobbin is now inviting applications for the latest round of Your Community Your Choice funding.
Three community groups in each county in North Wales will receive up to £2,500 each whilst there will be three £5,000 grants available for organisations working across three or more counties.
The deadline for bids is 5pm on December 10, with the winners being chosen by a public poll.
A shortlist of applicants will be chosen by a special panel and voting opens on January 10 and runs until February 4.
All submissions need to support the commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan in which delivering safer neighbourhoods and supporting communities are key priorities.
Completed applications must be returned by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on the closing date of December 10. For more information go to the commissioner’s website www.northwales-pcc.gov.uk or the PACT website www.pactnorthwales.co.uk