Tensions rise as Wrexham city status bid condemned as a ‘meaningless label’
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Tensions are rising as a decision looms on a bid for Wrexham to apply for city status.
Wrexham Council’s ruling administration looks set to approve an entry to a competition for UK towns to upgrade their status, which is being held to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
Senior councillors believe it will help to boost the area’s economy and are keen to proceed despite the town missing out on becoming a city on three previous occasions.
However, 61 per cent of respondents to a recent consultation said they did not feel that Wrexham deserved to be a city at all.
A report carried out by consultants on the local authority’s behalf also found gaining city status would not guarantee economic growth without other plans in place alongside it.
Campaigners against the bid have now organised a rally that will be held outside Wrexham’s Guildhall on Saturday.
Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones, who is one of the organisers of the event, accused the council of chasing a “meaningless label” that would not deliver any clear benefits.
He said: “The council’s bid for city status is a distraction when we need a laser-like focus on improving our town and borough.
“There’s a lot to do in terms of regenerating our town centre, funding the Wrexham Gateway, improving transport and access as well as our culture bid for 2025.
“There are no tangible economic benefits from city status and there are plenty of successful towns that don’t need to attach a meaningless label to their identity.
“This council leadership has failed to make the case and persuade people of its merits.”
He added: “The rally is the last opportunity for people to have their say on this matter.
“I would urge people to attend to send a message to the council’s leadership.”
The rally, which is being held at Llwyn Isaf at 11am, has been called in advance of a meeting of the council’s executive board.
The ten members of the independent/Conservative coalition will make the final decision on whether to submit a bid on Tuesday.
Ahead of the meeting, council leader Mark Pritchard (Ind) has lashed out against opponents of the bid.
Speaking at a media briefing, he said: “I’ve spoken to people on this issue and some of them are scared to come out to say that they support it because of the backlash.
“I speak to good people. I speak to Wrexham people who are indigenous local people who’ve been brought up in Wrexham and who have invested in Wrexham.
“They support it because they can see the picture here and they can see where we want to go with us.
“Unfortunately, this is political, and I think we all know that. This is a small group of politicians who are looking for something to push forward.
“It’s easy to be an opposition – you just object to everything and run campaigns. The hardest thing is to run a council, take the council forward and have aspirations.”
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Whats the point?!?
I think Wrecsam having city status is a great idea. It would give us in the north a focus within our own borders, rather than looking to Chester, Liverpool, Manchester. It would, of course, need much better public transport links to link Wrecsam to our main towns and cities like Rhyl, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, Llanrwst, Caergybi, Llandudno, Fflint, Bangor, Caernarfon, Bala etc.. Currently these are quite poor.
That’s a fair point about shifting the focus to within Wales’ borders, but it’s not enough to justify what would simply be window-dressing. Despite the architectural outrages perpetrated by Cyngor Wrecsam, in recent decades, the town has many good features, but there’s little that is “city-like” about the place. This is not the most important issue facing NE Wales right now, and it will achieve very little of value to the region.
Other than the title “city”, what would Wrecsam gain? More money, or access to more pots of money? More decision-making powers? It’s not clear to me that just calling Wrecsam a city does anything to improve it, or the region. If it brings some tangible benefits then crack on, but why bother if it’s just a change of title?
Oh yeah! Look at what a difference it made to Newport???