My personal views on why I believe a city status bid would be good for Wrexham

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  • #211118

    Phil Wynn
    Participant

    As an elected member I believe it is my duty to do what is best for the residents of Wrexham not just those that shout loudest on social media. My reasons for supporting a city bid for Wrexham are outlined in my email to Cllr Carrie Harper, who I respect holds an opposite view to mine. I hope my arguments might win her over.

    As per my statement the biggest prize we can secure for the good of Wrexham is the awarding of the City of Culture 2025. For me a city bid submission will only help our City of Culture bid.

    Cllr Phil Wynn

    Dear Carrie

    The problem all 52 of us face is non of us were voted on a ticket of supporting or not supporting a city status bid.

    The Queen has invited town’s to self-nominate themselves for the awarding of city status so on Tuesday we all get to vote on whether we support a bid or we don’t.

    As you say straw polls and surveys can’t be relied on so the decision has to be a political one rather a public referendum one, which we know has a polarising impact.

    I’m keen to understand yours and your Plaid colleagues reasons for moving the motion not to make a “Wrexham” city bid. I don’t wish to steal your thunder on Tuesday but if you could share your thoughts in advance then you never know you might win the argument with regards Members who are undecided or in my case currently support a Wrexham city bid.

    In the interest of a healthy debate (something that can’t always be guaranteed in a zoom setting) I am happy to share with you my thoughts on why a bid would help the prosperity of the residents of Wrexham:

    1. The most important reason for me is if Wrexham was to secure the City of Culture 2025 prize then this would help raise the profile of Wrexham, at the same as providing a vehicle by which we can raise public confidence and aspirations for all the residents of Wrexham. My fear is by withdrawing our city status bid we may undermine our City of Culture bid: If you ask for hard evidence for my claim then I’m sorry I haven’t any, that said why would the awarding panel for the CoC back Wrexham when we elected members seemingly haven’t the ambition to back ourselves by way of a city bid.

    I have attached a review document on the impact the City of Culture had for Hull. As Wrexham is better connected geographically than Hull suggests to me the prize of CoC would be an even greater prize for Wrexham as regards attracting out of County spend in Wrexham. If we can attract new visitors to our County then there is every possibility we can secure their return visits.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how your motion would strengthen our CoC bid?

    2. There is a perpetual view held by many that there is a North South divide in Wales when it comes to investments made by our Welsh government, with preference given to Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. The only way to break this view is to place Wrexham on an official footing as the capital of North Wales and what clearer way of achieving this than by securing city status for Wrexham. This would for the first time place Wrexham at the top table when it comes to discussions held by our government on future investments. I am interested in city status not for the sake of it but to ensure as we develop the narrative that Wrexham is a place to live, work and play, then being named as a city will assist in attracting inward investment by businesses who currently don’t have Wrexham on their radar. 

    3. Once May’s local elections are out of the way I would be surprised if our government do not resurrect their aspiration to see fewer local authorities in Wales. If this does take place then I would argue that by Wrexham securing city status we would be better placed to be made the civic centre for any newly formed North East Wales authority, rather than a geographically centred Mold. If we were to see Local Authority jobs moved out of Wrexham to Mold, as was the case in the days of Clwyd, then this would have a detrimental impact on businesses located in the town-centre.

    4.Whilst Wrexham’s retail has changed radically over the years, moving predominantly from a town-centre offer to retail parks (Plas Coch, Central, Island Green, Border RP, Morrisons, Lidl) and following the pandemic a fast track rise of web retail, there are still national retail chains who will seek to invest in localities that match their selection formula;  To this end I believe Wrexham will be  better placed to attract national chains to Wrexham if we brand ourselves as a city rather than as a market town.

    Whilst Wrexham has retained a market town brand over the years the loss of the cattle-market, the relocation of the Beast Market to Waterworld and finally to Queen Square, the deeply saddening demolition of our Vegtable market has very much diluted our market town credentials. Whilst you and I may have fond memories of shopping in these markets, the world has moved on and I would confidently say our markets are not a natural retail destination for the majority aged forty or younger.

    5. I am sure the current and pending investments in Wrexham are not lost on you and as such I believe all elected members ought to be striving to build on these economic successes  My view is city status will enhance not hinder further inward investment into Wrexham. Those investments by the way include:

    £16m on the World Heritage Site,  £5m Welsh Football national museum, £60m Glyndwr campus face-lift, £50m Wrexham Gateway Project, £10m additional extension to Coleg Cambria’s Yale campus which is over and above their recent investment, upgrades to various A483 intersections, £50m plus investment in our schools, £5m Crown Buildings office block and health provision, various warehouse facilities on Wrexham Industrial Estate,  expansion of the Moneypenny business park, 7000 new homes delivered on the back of an adopted LDP (assuming that is the case), various economic projects delivered by way of the UK government investment via the North Wales Ambition Board,  the Dee  Mersey Alliance and their Levelling Up Funding.

    6. We are fortunate to have Hollywood star owners of WAFC, who have aspirations to see our team play at a much higher level. Such aspirations will create investment in the stadium, an impressive training facility and as a result will see home attendances in excess of 10,000 spectators, which will have a positive knock on impact for retail and leisure outlets in the town-centre. The new owners are quoted in the press as saying ” why wouldn’t Wrexham consider a city bid” and I agree with their take on our aspirations to raise the profile of Wrexham and by default improve the town’s self belief and wealth creation for all in Wrexham.

    I fully respect your right to hold a differing view on city status but I hope my response has provided you with a few points worthy of reflection.

    Regards

    Phil

    Y Cynghorydd/Councillor Phil Wynn

    #211119

    jimbow
    Participant

    Dear Councillor Wynn,

    “The problem all 52 of us face, none of us were voted on a ticket of supporting or not supporting a city status bid”

    If that is the case, why? After a consultant’s report that was commissioned by WCBC, that showed 61% felt Wrexham did not deserve to be a City, do you choose to ignore that response and change it to a final vote by 52 Councillors. Where is the democracy behind this method, and why pay for a consultant’s report in the first place. Does WCBC motto YOU SAID WE DO no longer exist.

    #211120

    Phil Wynn
    Participant

    The form of democracy that happens in the UK is through the ballot box every five years not by way of a straw poll or survey which secured less than 500 responses.

    If my constituents feel my arguments for a city bid are weak then they will vote for someone else in next May’s local election….that is the true power voters hold.

    Fortunately as an Independent Councillor I stand on my personal credibility and passion to see the best is delivered for Wrexham and for Brynyffynnon.

    The vote called for at the Full Council on Tuesday can only be advisory as WCBC’s constitution stipulates the decision to continue with a city status bid has to be made by the Executive Board, as it is economic in nature.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Phil Wynn.
    #211124

    katy
    Participant

    Dear Councillor Wynn,

    You state that the City Of Culture 2025 bid is the most important thing. I agree with you on this. But this has nothing to do with Wrexham becoming a city. We don’t need to be a city to be City of Culture. I doubt the panel are checking the voting as part of their decision.

    I very much doubt that national brands pay any attention to whether an area has city status or not. They are more professional than that – they have many more metrics that they would consider. Making Wrexham a better town would attract them much more than having the same old Wrexham but calling itself a city.

    You quoted the football clubs new owners. They had just arrived in Wrexham for the first time and were put on the spot with that question. They gave the politically correct answer, not the conclusion they had come to after careful thought of their opinions on whats best for Wrexham based on deep knowledge of the town. After all they were more than happy to invest millions into Wrexham despite it being a town. They did not care that is was not a city.

    I note that you failed to mention the independent report that was created for the council. The one that showed that successful city status bidders actually fared worse in the long run than those who were not.

    Lets just concentrate on making Wrexham the best we can. Not sticking meaningless labels on it.

    #211128

    Matt
    Participant

    Phil I counter all of your ridiculous bluster with one statement and any other utterly delusional councillors they want to send in to try and find support.

    Nothing wrong with Wrexham TOWN. Proud to be part of this TOWN. Many tens of thousands agree – now jog on.

    #211129

    dewi73
    Participant

    Ridiculous bluster? It sounded credible to me and I’ve yet to hear a decent argument on why Wrexham should remain a town.

    #211134

    Phil Wynn
    Participant

    Katy thanks for sharing your thoughts on what you believe is good for Wrexham.

    The CoC bid can proceed on its own but my view is the City bid will enhance our chances to secure former. I hope you will accept WCBCs ruling coalition are ambitious and want to see things improve for all. Inward investment is what will kick-start our Counties fortunes and the City bid is only one way in which to achieve this greater goal.

    Please bear in mind we are talking of a bid, the selected town is at the discretion of the Queen.

    Aas regards our Holywood stars, they have invested in our town’s club because they see the great potential based on a heritage wh8ch is second to none – oldest Welsh club, the original ground from 1864, the oldest International football stadium in the world. Rob and Ryan’s ambition for the Club is clear to see…..as Wrexham political leaders I hope we can match their’s.

    Sorry for the delay in replying, just back from a holiday break.

    Phil Wynn

    #211135

    JaneJ
    Participant

    Well I will first acknowledge that Cllr Wynn is one of the very few Councillors who have been prepared to put their head above the parapet and gauge views. Yes Plaid have nailed their colours to the mast but how many of the others have bothered to ask any of their electorate.

    However! PW has a number of flaws in his argument-
    National chains will invest in a city more than a market town — incorrect and no evidence to show this as many key shopping streets in different cities are facing the same problems at ‘Market Towns’

    Why is it after £100sK spent by the Council (Yes PWs colleagues on the Council Executive) on various reports about the town little has been achieved yet PW and many others in the Council – Elected Members and Senior Officers are now banking on 2 Actors investing in the Football Club. PW talks about crowds of 10,000 (really ) clubs are dependent on away club fans coming as well yet these are only a few hundred even when the actors are present. How many people who attended the match when the two of them were watching where watching the football on the pitch, how many spent all their time watching the stand/actors and how many went because they thought they would be on the Netflix film being made. Also even with a crowd of 10k the income will hardly cover the weekly running costs of the club. Even if by a miraculous chance Wrexham progressed year on year it will be 7 years before Premiership!

    Wrexham as Capital of North Wales is unlikely to be accepted by those living in Gwynedd and Anglesey or even closer to home Flintshire- we don’t just have a North/South divide but an East/West as well.

    And finally as non of the Councillors – Independent or Party Political included anything about city status in their last election documents they should all be engaging with the public — yes current Councillors need to remember that there is an Election in May and a number of current Members have already said they are not standing and if the electorate vote the same way as in the General Election we may be looking at the Conservatives having the largest number of Members on the Council.

    #211136

    wrexview
    Participant

    JaneJ, you maybe right but some wards just re-elect the same councillor for years, Offa Ward has had the same Councillor for over 50 years, pre
    Margaret Thatcher by some way !

    #211139

    jimbow
    Participant

    Councillor Wynn,

    Please could you explain your statement “I hope you will accept WCBCs ruling coalition are ambitious and want to see things improve”.

    Back in 2016 a “Strategic Asset Management Plan 2016/21 SAMP” was published by WCBC. The document outlined a five-year plan to “improve the aesthetic and offering of Wrexham’s indoor markets” something that was estimated to cost £400k, split £128k for the General and £290k for the Butchers.
    During this SAMP period, funding of up to £2million pounds was secured for the two market projects. We are now one month off the end of the five-year plan. Sadly I have to report not one penny has been spent on this project. The markets are exactly the same as they were five years ago. Ambitious ???

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