Local councillor hits out over ‘secret’ talks on Wrexham’s city status bid
A local councillor has hit out at talks over Wrexham’s city status being held “in secret”.
Wrexham Council revealed in July it was considering entering a competition for UK towns to upgrade their status as part of plans to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
Senior councillors have argued Wrexham has a strong case as the largest town in North Wales, despite missing out on city status in 2000, 2002 and 2012.
However, the local authority’s ruling executive board has been accused of keeping councillors and members of the public in the dark over the process.
It follows an update recently being provided to members of Wrexham’s Civic Leadership Group, which Wrexham.com noted, concerned whether or not a bid would deliver economic benefits for the area.
Plaid Cymru group leader Marc Jones said the information was supplied as a report during the private meeting but the council’s chief executive stressed only a verbal update was given.
Cllr Jones said: “The Tory-independent coalition running Wrexham Council has started a process to bid for city status.
“Part one of that process was to commission consultants to assess the benefits and disbenefits of city status.
“That report has, I’m told, been presented to the civic leadership group – an unelected body that meets in secret and does not publish minutes.
“I can only guess that the consultants’ report doesn’t provide the necessary evidence to back a case for city status. Surely if it did, we’d have been told by now.
“This is a council that is making decisions without involving elected members, without sharing important information and failing to engage with the people on an important issue such as city status.”
The civic leadership group is made up of figureheads from a number public and voluntary organisations across Wrexham, along with local businesses.
Cllr Jones said backbench politicians were due to receive an update on the bid during a confidential meeting being held today.
He added he had asked for information to be supplied in advance but his request was denied.
The council’s chief executive said members of the public would be consulted before a bid is made.
Ian Bancroft said: “No report has been shared with the civic leadership group.
“They have received a verbal update as we have been trying to keep all stakeholders updated.
“There is a member workshop on Tuesday where councillors will have all the up to date information made available to them for work so far at the start of the public engagement exercise.”
The last time Wrexham went for city status in 2012, it was pipped to the post by St Asaph, despite the Denbighshire town’s much smaller population.
The latest potential application has been welcomed by business leaders, who described it as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity”.
And Wrexham’s chances were recently boosted by the news that Merthyr Tydfil, the only other Welsh town in the running, had pulled out.
However, Plaid Cymru councillors have blasted the bid as “a daft idea” following a negative reaction from some residents on social media.
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter
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