Competing bids for UK City of Culture could backfire, tourism boss warns
A tourism leader has warned that having three competing bids from the north of Wales to become the UK City of Culture 2025 could backfire.
Jim Jones, the Chief Executive of North Wales Tourism, fears that by vying against each other Bangor, Conwy and Wrexham could weaken the chances of all three.
The trio are among a record number of 20 places to put their names forward for the prestigious competition. Powys and Newport have also thrown their hats into the ring.
This time the criteria were changed so that, in addition to cities, regions and groups of towns from across the UK were encouraged to apply.
There is early speculation that Wrexham’s Hollywood connections in the shape of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney could give them the edge.
Their takeover of Wrexham AFC has attracted worldwide attention and the area was in the spotlight once again this week after a Hollywood-style sign spelling out town’s name in large white letters appeared on a slag heap on the outskirts of the town.
But Jim Jones voiced his concerns on Twitter that having three separate submissions from the north of Wales could be counterproductive.
He said: “3 places from across North Wales have submitted an expression of interest to become the UK City of Culture 2025. The City of Bangor. Conwy County. Wrexham County Borough. What happened to the working together as a region? By competing against each other, dilutes all.
“I’ve seen Conwy’s bid very strong and compelling Cultural bid. Can’t comment on Bangor’s or Wrexham’s as not seen theirs.”
Wrexham Council leader Mark Pritchard believes that a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust could be key to success, as well as the town’s industrial heritage.
He told the Local Democracy Service: “Wrexham has a bounty of mineral wealth and proud industrial past but is best known for its coal mining, with Bersham, Hafod and Gresford being our most well-known collieries.
“The Welsh language and culture is embedded in the fabric of Wrexham from our manufacturing and mining heritage to our modern and thriving business park that includes a manufacturer of the Covid vaccine.
“Future projects for Wrexham include the Wrexham Gateway Project that will transform the gateway into Wrexham as well as plans developing for Football Museum Wales due to open in 2023.
“Speaking about football it’s not hard to get excited about the stratospheric developments at the Racecourse ground and Wrexham AFC.
“The Racecourse is the world’s oldest international stadium that still continues to host international games and Wrexham AFC is the third oldest football club in the world.
“The club, the fans and the new owners are spreading the Wrexham name worldwide, engaging with a new international audience for the club and town.”
The bidders vying to take on the baton from Coventry as the next UK City of Culture will be reduced to an initial long list in the next few weeks.
They will then be cut down further to a final short list early next year, with the winner announced in May, 2022.