Wrexham’s Senedd member left in the dark over council’s latest city status bid
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Wrexham’s Senedd member says she has been left “surprised” at the announcement that a fourth bid could be made for the town to gain city status.
Yesterday Wrexham Council revealed its intention to enter a competition for UK towns to upgrade their status under plans to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
Senior councillors have argued Wrexham has a strong case as the largest town in the north of Wales, despite missing out on city status in 2000, 2002 and 2012.
Independent council leader Mark Pritchard said it provided “a real opportunity” to demonstrate the area’s ambition.
However, Labour’s Lesley Griffiths said she had been left in the dark over the proposals, which have already been met with objections from some residents.
Griffiths said she had supported previous bids and believed a further application was worth exploring, but sounded a note of caution over whether the touted economic benefits would be realised.
She said: “Wrexham Council’s decision to bid for city status once again has come as a surprise.
“I have not been consulted nor have I been party to any discussions thus far.
“In the past I have supported the applications as the extra recognition can create new opportunities and attract investment.
“As the largest town in North Wales, Wrexham cannot stand still and must be ambitious.”
She added: “If there is an opportunity to secure additional support as a result of being a city then I believe it is a notion worth pursuing, particularly as we start to rebuild post-pandemic.
“However, it will be interesting to note the experiences of new cities, such as St Asaph and Newport, to see whether they have realised the benefits and whether city status has created a positive economic impact.”
Griffiths said now she was aware of the council’s intentions, she would be seeking further information.
The authority is also planning to make a separate bid to become the next UK City of Culture in 2025.
The last time Wrexham went for city status in 2012, it was pipped at the post by St Asaph, despite the Denbighshire town’s much smaller population.
News of the latest application has been welcomed by business leaders, who described it as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity”.
However, Plaid Cymru councillors have blasted it as “a daft idea” following a largely negative reaction from members of the public on social media.
Queensway representative Carrie Harper said: “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.
“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.”