Posted: Tue 9th Nov 2021

City Status decision booted back to executive board following shambolic council meeting

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Nov 9th, 2021

The opportunity for all councillors to vote on whether Wrexham should bid for city status did not happen this afternoon after an amendment to refer the final decision back to the executive board members was backed by 36 members of the council.

This is despite concerns from the mayor that such an amendment will disenfranchise the other 42 councillors, who had yet to even have the opportunity to speak either in favour or against the local authority bidding for city status.

Councillor Ronnie Prince, the current mayor, said holding the meeting to only refer it back to the executive board was a “complete waste of time and a complete waste of money.”

A Special Meeting of the Full Council had initially been called to consider the motion that “This council does not support a bid for city status”.

The Platinum Jubilee City Status ‘competition’ will see a decision by the Queen “on Ministerial advice” with the outcome decided after ‘consideration in the round on the merits’ of each bid.

The motion was put forward by Plaid Cymru councillors which triggered today’s debate on whether Wrexham should bid for city status.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Marc Jones described the three previous bids for city status as “deeply divisive at a time when we need a clear and unifying vision to take our town – and the wider county borough – forward.”

He added: “At a time when we should be looking to ensure Wrexham builds on our town’s heritage and history to become a modern capital of the North, we find ourselves having to discuss City status.

“Rebranding as a city would mean new signage, new logos, new websites and literature. All extra costs at a time when we need every penny spent on better services. ”

However an amendment was put forward by Council Leader Mark Pritchard that read “The full council invites the executive board to consider a bid for city status of the next scheduled meeting” which is in December.

Cllr Pritchard said: “I think Wrexham deserves city status and I think it will improve the economy and business and there will be more in investment Wrexham as a place .”

He added that “time has moved on” and that city status will “improve Wrexham as a place and North Wales as a region.”

However Mayor of Wrexham Ronnie Prince challenged this motion, stating that allowing it would “disenfranchise the other 42 councillors.”

But legal advice from the council’s monitoring officer said the amendment was within the constitution and that it was allowed to go ahead under legal advice.

An adjournment to the meeting was called by Council Leader Mark Pritchard to allow the group leaders and the mayor – along with the legal officer – to find a way forward which lasted more than half an hour and took place behind closed doors.

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After the adjournment and an abrupt late return Mayor Cllr Prince reluctantly agreed to accept the amendment, and the motion who was seconded by Cllr David A Bithell – who only months ago said Wrexham Council had “never considered city status again since the last time.”

It took an hour and 15 minutes for any debate on the amendment to actually substantively begin, which we think is a new record. However after a very ropey start, the meeting did see councillors voice thoughts on the pros and cons of city status (more tweets at the bottom of this article).

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Dana Davies said the council need to acknowledge and fix the concerns that have been raised by the public about the city status consultation and their trust in the local authority.

She called for Cllr Pritchard and Bithell to include details of the benefits city status will bring to the people of Wrexham is publicised on the council website. This was agreed to.

Cllr Davies said: “I think what’s clear – apart from what’s taken place this evening, which I’m still in shock about to be honest – is that there is a real and genuine concern with the public that they have no confidence in this council delivering for them.

“They also feel that the consultation on city status was a waste of our time, some expressed concerns that it was biased and did not afford them the opportunity to fully engage with the process.

“I raised similar concerns at the workshop we attended to review the city states as consultation, we need to acknowledge these genuine concerns and fix them.

“Since the expression of interest of city status was passed by the executive board in July, we the labour group have been researching what positive impacts city status can bring to Wrexham.

“There is evidence that cities are the engines of economic growth, cities expose people to more opportunities and can provide markets for new and innovative products that give rise to new industries and drive economic progress.”

Plaid Cymru Carrie Harper said the behaviour at today’s meeting will “look awful” to the people watching it and warned that the actions of the council’s leadership could “go viral for the wrong reasons.”

She said: “Who’s really talking the town down because this town has a rich history and heritage as a proud working class market and stretching back over many, many years.

“And who wants to get rid of that identity as a town against the wishes of most people live here? That is actually the council leadership.

“Now of course we all want to see investment, we want to see indigenous businesses grow as well. I want to see our markets thrive, I want to see our town centre bustling again.

“But you don’t have a monopoly on ambition for our town and how we can take Wrexham forward and accusing all those people, who disagree with you of lacking ambition or talking the town down is quite sad.”

Member of the Wrexham Independent Group, Cllr John Phillips, said that he been contacted by residents and “not one has been in favour”.

He added: “Ultimately, I am the voice of the people who I represent and for this reason, I will not be supporting city status bid for Wrexham.”

Several councillors came out in favour of the pressing ahead with bidding for city status, with Cllr Andy Williams saying: “I’m here to represent my ward.

“I’m on the ground speaking to people every day about city status and other issues in the village and a few people have said no, a few people have said yes and a lot of people have said, well I don’t really know.

“I’ve stopped and had debates with people and I look at the pros and cons for either and that’s what I’m making my decision on today.

“It’s little bit like a lottery ticket, f we don’t buy a lottery ticket, we’re never gonna have a chance of winning it. And I really do want to buy that lottery ticket to see where it leads us.

“I want to use anything I can to bring wealth and prosperity to make it an even better place to live.”

Cllr Mike Davies wanted to place his own amendment forward, but was told he would get a chance to do so later.

In unusual scenes just before the vote the Mayor said, “I’d just like to say I’m very disappointed that it will be going back to the executive board. Only 10 members will decide this very important issue. I think I feel people of Wrexham deserve their councillor to have the opportunity to vote on this issue.”

36 members of the council voted in favour of the amendment via a roll call of names, with the addition from Cllr Davies, nine voted against and one councillor abstained.

As the amendment then became the substantive Motion, a second vote was quickly held via a question if anyone was changing their minds, with the Legal Officer saying “That means that that becomes a substantive motion and we will have a final vote on that matter. Can I ask if anybody who would vote differently from how they’ve already voted?”

With no one indicating it was taken as voted and passed, at that point the meeting was technically over.

Cllr Mike Davies then asked what about his amendment – and was told he had basically missed his chance – as it should have been an amendment to the ‘new’ motion.

It is highly likely the Executive Board will rubber stamp bid submission plans, so the outcome from tonight is City Status was supported by a majority of councillors. (List of who voted which way is below).

There is some light precedent that one place in Wales will get the City award, so it appears we are in with a fair chance of now becoming City of Wrexham, as so far there are no other villages or towns coming forward and bidding that we know of.

 

More shortly.

 

How did your councillor vote?

Cllr Bryan Apsley (Llay) FOR
Cllr William Baldwin (Little Acton) FOR
Cllr Trevor Bates (Ceiriog Valley) FOR
Cllr Sonia Benbow-Jones (Cefn) FOR
Cllr David A Bithell (Johnstown) FOR
Cllr I David Bithell (Stansty) FOR
Cllr Paul Blackwell (Plas Madoc) absent
Cllr Brian Cameron (Whitegate) FOR
Cllr Krista Childs (Coedpoeth) FOR
Cllr Dana Davies (Ruabon) FOR
Cllr Mike Davies (Rhosnesni) AGAINST
Cllr Michael Dixon (Coedpoeth) absent
Cllr T Alan Edwards (New Broughton) absent
Cllr Terry Evans (Chirk South) FOR
Cllr Russell Gilmartin (Marford and Hosely) FOR
Cllr D J Griffiths (Gwersyllt East/South) FOR
Cllr Carrie Harper (Queensway) AGAINST
Cllr Frank Hemmings (Chirk North) FOR
Cllr Kevin Hughes (Ponciau) FOR
Cllr R Alun Jenkins (Offa) FOR
Cllr Adrienne Jeorrett (Smithfield) absent
Cllr Gwenfair Jones (Gwersyllt West) AGAINST
Cllr Hugh Jones (Rossett) FOR
Cllr Marc Jones (Grosvenor) AGAINST
Cllr David Kelly (Minera) FOR
Cllr Jeremy Kent (Gresford East/West) FOR
Cllr M C King (Wynnstay) FOR
Cllr Geoff Lowe (Acton) FOR
Cllr Joan Lowe (Pen-y-cae and Ruabon South) FOR
Cllr David Maddocks (Pant) absent
Cllr Tina Mannering (Gwersyllt East/South) FOR
Cllr Becca Martin (Maesydre) AGAINST
Cllr John McCusker (Overton) FOR
Cllr M G Morris (Holt) FOR
Cllr Beverley Parry-Jones (Bryn Cefn) FOR
Cllr Paul H Pemberton (Ponciau) FOR
Cllr John Phillips (Pen-y-cae) AGAINST
Cllr Ronnie Prince (Cartrefle) AGAINST
Cllr John Pritchard (Marchwiel) FOR
Cllr Mark Pritchard (Esclusham) FOR
Cllr Phil Rees (Gwersyllt North) AGAINST
Cllr Paul Roberts (Erddig) abstain
Cllr Rondo Roberts (Llangollen Rural) FOR
Cllr Graham Rogers (Hermitage) FOR
Cllr Paul Rogers (Brymbo) FOR
Cllr J Rodney Skelland (Bronington) FOR
Cllr Debbie Wallice (Borras Park) FOR
Cllr Robert Walsh (Llay) AGAINST
Cllr Andy Williams (Garden Village) FOR
Cllr Nigel Williams (Gwenfro) absent
Cllr Derek Wright (Cefn) FOR
Cllr Phil Wynn (Brynyffynnon) FOR

Our tweets locally stored from this evening in reverse order…



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