Wrexham gears up for another bid to become Wales’ seventh city
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Leading politicians are hoping it will be a case of fourth time lucky as they consider making another bid to secure city status for Wrexham.
A competition for UK towns to upgrade their status is set to be held next year to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Wales currently has six cities, many of which are smaller than Wrexham – St. David’s, St Asaph, Bangor, Newport, Swansea and Cardiff.
Senior councillors now believe Wrexham has a strong case as the largest town in the north of Wales, despite missing out on three previous occasions.
Last time round in 2012, it was pipped at the post by St Asaph, even though the Denbighshire town has a much smaller population of just 3,400.
It came after Wrexham Council was accused of ignoring the public after a consultation exercise in which the 1,500 people who responded came out two to one against an application being lodged.
The local authority has also revealed it’s considering a separate bid to become the next UK City of Culture in 2025.
Council leader Mark Pritchard said: “Both these opportunities provide a real opportunity to demonstrate locally, regionally and nationally the ambition that Wrexham has to properly fulfil its role as the major urban centre and heart of North Wales and in doing so provide significant benefits to local residents.”
Cllr Terry Evans, lead member for economic regeneration, said: “Economic recovery is a priority over the coming months and these two opportunities will help show the confidence we all have in Wrexham and it is this confidence that creates the environment for investment in the area.”
With the closing date for City of Culture applications drawing close, executive board members will be asked to progress a bid as soon as possible when they meet on Tuesday next week.
More work will be carried out before the push for city status, including seeking public views, with a deadline of December this year.
A report to senior councillors highlights that there are likely to be conflicting opinions on the merits of becoming a city.
However, officials said it could help to regenerate the local economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The council’s lead member for people, Cllr Hugh Jones, said the area already has experience of hosting cultural events.
He said: “Wrexham has a strong track record in this area having undertaken a year of culture in 2011 and has rich cultural assets including Tŷ Pawb, the oldest international football ground in the world and a World Heritage Site to name a few.
“We want to celebrate with local residents the unique culture of Wrexham and the City of Culture 2025 provides a unique opportunity to do this.”