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Hollywood stardust could be a gamechanger for Wrexham’s city status bid says business leaders

08 Jul 2021 5 minutes Read
Ryan Reynolds. Picture by Dick Thomas Johnson (CC BY 2.0). Wrexham picture by Born Acorn (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Business leaders who are putting their weight behind a planned new bid to achieve city status for Wrexham hope a bit of Hollywood magic can help them get over the line.

Wrexham Business Professionals say that the takeover of Wrexham AFC by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney could be a gamechanger because the profile of the town has never been higher.

Some including Plaid Cymru councillors in the town have questioned the benefits of the move, saying that any money put into the bid should go on improving services instead.

But solicitor Ian Edwards, a senior member of Wrexham Business Professionals, said that he would back a fourth bid by Wrexham County Borough Council to become a city.

The competition, due to be held next year to mark Queens Platinum Jubilee, comes after Wrexham lost out in 2012 when it was pipped at the post by St Asaph, in Denbighshire.

The council is also looking at a bid to become the next UK City of Culture in 2025.

“The fact that Wrexham AFC has been bought by Hollywood A-listers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney has added a bit of magic and stardust,” Ian Edwards said.

“A lot of people across the world hadn’t heard of Wrexham before and now other Hollywood stars are embracing the story and putting on the club’s shirt.

“We’ve never had such a high profile – not just nationally but internationally. You really couldn’t script it better. There’s never going to be a better time to bid for city status.”

‘Put Wrexham on the map’

Wrexham Business Professionals is made up of businesses working together to promote prosperity and enterprise in the region. They say securing city status could transform the area’s economic prospects.

Ian Edwards said: “We have supported the idea of Wrexham becoming a city for many years. As far as we are concerned, this is a no-brainer and a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

“Even before the pandemic and the consequences of the pandemic we’ve always thought that being a city would give Wrexham a lot of kudos and would provide a massive economic benefit for the whole of North Wales.

“Over the past 18 months during the pandemic some business in Wrexham have done well but others – notably in leisure, tourism and hospitality – have really suffered and we really have to get back on our feet economically.

“It’s not just about putting Wrexham on the map – being a city would provide an effective lever in attracting inward investment and new jobs which would help the whole area thrive and prosper.

“Any costs in putting the bid together would be far outweighed by the potential benefits which would transform the fortunes of the town and provide a better future for the people who live here.

“It feels like the stars have now aligned perfectly and that the time is now right to do our best to seize this opportunity.

“The town centre in Wrexham is struggling at the moment like many other places. and I don’t see what we have to lose. It’s got to be worth a go.”

‘Costly’

Not everyone however supports the bid, with Plaid Cymru’s Wrexham councillors questioning the costs that could run into the tens of thousands.

Cllr Carrie Harper said: “This is the third time this council’s leadership has gone for city status – the previous winners were Newport and St Asaph. I would challenge the council to list the added benefits that city status brought to those two towns in the past decade.

“The bid will cost Wrexham citizens tens of thousands of pounds – regardless of whether it’s successful. I think the people of Wrexham would rather our civic leaders concentrated on ensuring our children’s services are working properly, our schools are thriving, our town centre is full and the potholes are fixed before another reckless city status adventure. This council is planning to wreck our countryside through its Local Development Plan – is this what city status means?
“The people of Wrexham have consistently rejected this daft idea so let’s focus on delivering great services for Wrexham rather than putting meaningless labels on our town.
“Did we need city status to pull in millionaire backers for our football club? Did we need to be a city to have a world heritage site? What exactly are the benefits of having this empty and costly status?
Wrexham has a great heritage as a market town, it’s got a bright future as the capital of north Wales. But not with this council leadership – the people have a chance to elect a new council leadership in 10 months’ time and that means electing people who will focus on what Wrexham really needs.”

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j humphrys
j humphrys
3 months ago

Q; When is the next bus? A; There isn’t one.

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