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

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  • #211185

    Matt
    Participant

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

    Here’s the argument – it would be a gross violation of the Trade Descriptions Act to ever describe Wrexham in its current incarnation as a City.

    Reading, Bournemouth, Swindon, Northampton and Luton are all towns far bigger in population and physical size than Wrexham, with greater facilities and merits that would argue their deservedness of an upgrade.

    However, they are happy with their lot. You don’t see councillors there coming out with tub-thumping lunacy trying to enforce a crazy city bid.

    How can anyone declare this town to be city ready when the vast majority of retail units on Hope Street, Regent Street, Eagles Meadow, Henblas Street are empty!

    It’s not about shopping, but you can’t also declare city going off the culture of Ty Pawb (reviled and ignored by most of the general public) alone.

    Woefully inadequate public transport infrastructure – both rail and bus. A483 junctions in desperate need of updating, not sure when those updates are going to happen.

    Secondary school system in dire straits.

    Inadequate provision of GP Surgeries – they keep closing down and more and more people pushed into less surgeries, making it nearly impossible for some to get an appointment or even registered.

    A city status bid is a tragic vanity project and backslapping exercise for a group of 10 Executive Board power wielders who each got elected in on average by around 30% of an uninterested and unengaged local electorate.

    You could call Wrexham a Super-Metropolis or whatever you wanted if you want labels and it would still need actual issues dealing with it. It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    Councillor Wynn my feedback to your esteemed Executive Board is stop messing about with stupid City Status nonsense and actually do something to fix the myriad of issues this town has. The bid is not worthy of a single hour’s time wasted on it whilst everything else decays.

    #211187

    Matt
    Participant

    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.

    It is also shameful to try and hitch the wagon of the Council’s running of Wrexham town and county to the fortunes of the club. Hollywood star owners might help the club improve, but what are we going to do, make them mayors of town and expect them to fix the problems of the entire town and wider county. It’s beggar belief that this would be the case. There will be a limited uplift of retail and hospitality activity on match days, but the apparent claims that it will superpower the entire economy are delusional.

    #211204

    Alunh
    Participant

    Just to respond to the points made by Phil Wynn on City status.

    At the end of your observations, you pose a question. “I’d be interested to learn your thoughts on what are the barriers to independent traders wanting to setup business in Wrexham and what type of shops we are missing in Wrexham. I would like a mens outfitters who sell brown trouser braces”.

    There are no barriers to Independent traders setting up businesses in Wrexham at all. Indeed, that very Retailer who specialises in brown trouser braces may well have given the town a thought in considering his/her business start-up. This debate isn’t about barriers.

    What most of us are discussing on this topic is the optimal way forward for Wrexham, the best approach to allow Wrexham to face the future and cash in on the various factors in play on an ongoing basis. There’s nothing in what you have put forward that helps explain why you think that the rebranding of Wrexham as a City will provide that optimal approach, though I see the red herring of Newport has been used to try and support the case. Newport is not Wrexham and Wrexham is not Newport. Both are unique and have identities, historic and modern, that explain much of the linked article. Indeed, by the logic of the biased report on Newport, one would conclude that Wrexham attracted the Eagles Meadow development, the Island Green development, the Plas Coch development, the inward Investment by Hollywood into Wrexham F>C and the new Industrial Estate developments……because it is a town. Sadly, this isn’t how logic works.

    On the branding exercise, the real problem that you have is that the City concept flies in the face of the normal Branding rationale. I’ll just remind you of the Roger Brooks recommendations for those Branding for success and the theme of Wrexham as a City goes against, for example, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 below (amongst others

    1. Brands are perceptions
    2. Brands are built on the perceived nature of the offer/product
    3. Brands are earned: sometimes good, sometimes bad
    4. Brands are developed through PR and word of mouth
    5. Brands must be experiential
    6. Branding is the art of differentiation
    7. You must jettison the generic
    8. Say no to focus groups
    9. Find your niche, your specialty
    10. It takes a village

    What concerns many of us who support the Town Brand approach is that it is a realistic assessment of what the Town is and is supported as an idea by the “Village”. It provides a realistic self-identification for the area and allows the Town to build on its strengths to an agreed end. Where the Council can play a role has nothing to do with removing Barriers (though there remain many) but in helping set the scene for the Town to revive itself over time behind a rational and feasible approach. For the Council this means setting the scene and attending to those areas that it does have control over (not those it does not).

    What this actually means in practice is completely reconfiguring the Markets so that they are fit for purpose. This is what Bury and Altrincham did. There are reasons why Mold and Prestatyn have successful day Markets. Templates, location, PR, et al

    You say that you are “all for a mixed offer to attract increased footfall in our town-centre and a greater number of independent shops is equally necessary as national chains”. Towns that are surviving and prospering are going far further than this. They are setting their stall out for the Independent sector ensuring that planning, for example, moves away where possible from large unit development. Towns with small unit development are primed to cash in on the Independent renaissance. Are we?

    You say that “vibrant markets are part of that mix but in the end it is up to traders to offer a retail experience that folk want and value. Over the years shoppers have expected more than is the current offer….if that wasn’t the case then we wouldn’t be having this exchange”. This is a crazy way of approaching this subject. Are you suggesting that Wrexham’s Markets are so poor because the traders haven’t stepped up the plate. Wow!!

    The Markets that I witnessed in 2006 first hand and note today remain the same shambles that they were then and are now. Successful Market towns have analysed why their current offer is crap. Have we? If so, have we come up with sensible answers? I think not.

    Successful templates are available. Most successful Towns have developed Food Halls, Craft and Arts Markets (with produce made by local producers for the market place), and similar. We still have a blob

    #211215

    Matt
    Participant

    Great post Alun and a brutally honest appraisal of the situation in hand, I was actually able to read through your long post and learn something and agree, as opposed to wincing and feeling like we are all being gaslit, based on other long postings by others with an agenda.

    People have been desperate for the markets to be fixed for years as the right set-up would get locals back in and buying to both the indoor markets and to a revamped Monday market.

    The council’s answer to this was to chuck Ty Pawb at us with sheer delusion that the arts and performance space would do anything for the average townsfolk. Now Wrexham’s market brand and identity is even more confusing and broken.

    Now they want to chuck city status at us and INSIST IT WILL BE FOR OUR BENEFIT.

    It’s only a matter of time before they claim they are utterly broke again and threaten us with reduced black bin collection again and to close down leisure centres and demolish community centres.

    Has anyone ever come across a bunch of individuals as the Executive Board who do not realise just how angry they make people collectively? It’s a good job they don’t run the council in a French town is all I can say.

    I’ve been fairly silent on local issues for a long time because there’s not been a great deal they could mess up during Covid, but now they are back to their meddling ways and deserve a downright good shouting at.

    #211254

    jimbow
    Participant

    The present situation in the markets, as it seems that many people rightly believe as I do our town can be brought back to life from these valuable town centre assets, and remain a town, as I understand it, is this.

    The Employment, Business, Independent Scrutiny Committee were informed that up to £2 million had been secured for the refurbishment of the markets March 2020.
    At an Executive Board Meeting, July 2021 under Slippage of Expenditure to 2021/22. Changes to the phasing of expenditure have resulted in £7,680k, of spending originally planned in 2020/21 to be rescheduled to 2021/22. Projects where significant slippage has occurred are:- One of which was :- Targetted Regenerated Investment Programme Property Investment Grant(-341k). This allocation will be used in 2021/22 for work to the Butchers Market.

    I e-mailed every Councillor on the EBISC asking, Does this mean the £2m is no longer available and the total refurbishment is down to £341k? Can the Executive Board reduce the funding without any consultation with Scrutiny? If £2m was not considered a realistic estimation of work needed to be carried out, why put such a figure on it in the first place?

    Initially I received no reply from any councillor, however, the Leader of the Labour Group did ask the questions at the Executive Board meeting. Unfortunately, the council officer present did not know immediately if the figure for refurbishment was £341k, £2,341k or £2m. I was later emailed to say the £341k was additional to the £2m.

    I believe markets may be on the agenda for the EBISC at their December 2021 meeting. This hopefully will reveal how ambitious our Council are to regenerate OUR TOWN.

    #211255

    JaneJ
    Participant

    The £2m had come in as a grant — how come the Council have not complied with the offer letter? How many other grants come to the Council but are then not used.
    On a different track with funding the amount collected from building developments under section 106 is another pot that is supposed to be used for specific projects yet often are never completed years after the builders have left. Perhaps Cllr Phil Wynne would be quite astonished if he looked over the past 10 year of how much has ben collected and how little has been spent.

    #211265

    MP1953
    Participant

    Ty Pawb the biggest white elephant in my living memory !

    The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

    #211287

    jimbow
    Participant

    I do not wish to derail this thread by turning it into a discussion on Ty Pawb. However, it was WCBC that reduced the offer available to residents of Wrexham by reducing the number of stalls in the Peoples Market from 58 to around 20 in Ty Pawb.

    #211288

    Andrewmackembailey
    Participant

    Hi Phil

    Thank you for starting, what I believe is a serious attempt to discuss City Status. If I am correct in my memory I have voted twice on similar action and remain sceptical. I have two questions- the first directed my vote some 20 years ago and the second ( sadly ) has been relevant these last 10 years

    1) Puffed up civic pride , and having one over on Mold , is all fair and well but how does a City status bid improve the direct economy status of the council and the town/city? Based on those who have succeeded in previous rounds I think the case is at the best unproven.

    2) Will City status help the area achieve something that has eluded it since 2011?
    It is all very well being a city but when you lack a Local Development Plan and can’t direct strands of development to where best suited I question its effectiveness.
    Enjoy the debate and my prime bet on “ city status bingo “ is “ I blame Cardiff/South Wales !

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