Posted: Fri 22nd Oct 2021

Updated: Fri 22nd Oct

Straw Poll results + Wrexham Council release “Final independent report on potential socioeconomic impacts of City Status”

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

Yesterday we ran a straw poll throughout the day asking a simple question “Do you think Wrexham Council should bid for City Status?” with two options, Yes or No.

A usual our ‘straw poll’ was caveated as being a very unscientific sample of Wrexham.com readers thoughts, and lacked the segmentation and pre-qualification elements of ‘proper’ polls so should be treated accordingly. The audience is, in theory, the self selecting readership relevant to the Wrexham area.

There were over 3,500 votes on what turned out to be a poll more popular than we thought, with initial voting in the morning being roughly 70% ‘No’ and 30% ‘Yes’ split.

That position then changed with such an inundation of votes we thought we would graph the voting pattern (timestamp, with vote count for each option) throughout the day to see what it would show.

During the afternoon we were asked by several councillors about the progression of the simple, unscientific and plays-no-part-whatsoever in the outcome of the city status bid, poll. Some asked if we were aware that people could vote more than once in the poll, which was possible via the non-logged in or IP restricted Google Form, as we trust readers to behave sensibly. We asked the councillors how they knew multi-voting was possible, and was told they had been told by third parties. Other theories voiced to us included “Yes” supporters could be looking to offset any multiple voting by “No” voters, and by early evening it was genuinely amazing to see the local political interest in the outcome.

The final result of the poll was 55.6% saying YES Wrexham Council should bid for City Status, with 44.4% saying NO the council should not submit a bid.

Due to the above bizarre interest and change of pattern in the early afternoon we looked at the detail on the voting throughout the day for each option. The vote was taken via Google Forms that logged an exact timestamp when it was made. Often when we have run straw polls before for elections the overall picture rarely dramatically changes, and when there is a jump in votes / percentage share for a candidate the spikes would correlate to a candidate or party posting a link on their social media, however due to the overall volume the impact is often diluted.

For our City Status poll we have graphed the votes per minute for both Yes and for No, showing the rough 30/70 split through the morning and then larger volumes for Yes votes, with No votes hitting a peak of ten votes per minute just once.

During the 11:24am spike on the Yes votes 42 were logged inside two minutes, later in the evening 26 votes in a minute was recorded in the highest peak.

Yes vote activity dropped between 5:20pm and 6pm with only one Yes vote per minute recorded – a similar level to No votes. Some smaller upticks on the ‘No’ votes correlate with timings of links to the poll we placed on social media.

Both graphs show the progress of the voting for each option through the day while the poll was live, with the same scale for precise comparison:

How the Yes vote progressed through the day into the evening.

How the No vote progressed during the same period.

With the fresh interest in polls and how they work, along with the ability to ensure single voting Wrexham Council could now be motivated to run their own direct poll on their various social media accounts and website to give an ultimate official verdict.

As well as our fun straw poll you can still take part in the official feedback process by filling in the consultation questionnaire which is posing a range of questions to you that fit the bid submission – take part here. (You have until Friday October 29th to share your views.)

Final independent report on potential socioeconomic impacts of City Status

Late yesterday afternoon a 32 page document was also released by Wrexham Council to councillors, the Civic Leaders group – and also made public “to aid transparency” on the debate.

In circulating the report the council said, “There is no published evidence on the economic benefits (or disbenefits) of the award of city status, so to address this gap Wrexham CBC commissioned this independent study to specifically examine the potential economic benefits for towns like Wrexham.”

“The study has found that the towns awarded city status have experienced economic growth, but ONS data does not show an acceleration in the rate of growth following the award of city status.”

A comparative analysis of new cities and towns is included, and the council say they “show that areas which have been successful in gaining city status identify a range of benefits” including:

  • Helping to boost local pride which, in turn, may have economic benefits
  • Providing a new platform to promote the city and raise ambitions
  • Creating opportunities for anchor institutions, economic clusters, and sectors to raise their profile
  • Enabling some cities to attract major projects such as a university and enterprise zone, which they might not otherwise have secured as towns
  • Allowing relationships to be developed with other cities and helping them to collectively ‘punch above their weight’, securing both public and private investment and collaborating with Government on strategic issues, particularly in Scotland
  • Providing a reason for, and focus for re-branding campaigns
  • Perceived successes in attracting inward investment – attributed to city awareness and the infrastructure and facilities they offer e.g. business incubator, high-profile local businesses and organisations, alongside city status
  • Higher expectations of ‘Placemaking’ with cities thought of as more vibrant places to live, work, and invest
  • Cities with an accessible rural hinterland are seen as very attractive places

The council say, “The evidence suggests the opportunity for a range of potential benefits for Wrexham from city status if it links such an award to delivering more ambitious place shaping plans and investment strategies, connected to local attributes such as the University, employment and transport infrastructure and cultural attractions.”

The report itself covers a range of topics, but on economic comparison notes, “None of the cities consulted have undertaken research into the impact of city status, so they cannot attribute their economic performance directly to this” it later states, “None of the cities that were recently awarded this status have seen any negative impacts from it.”

Currently Wrexham Council are set to formally decide on if a bid will be made on the 9th of November via a decision at the council’s Executive Board, with the formal documents being sent off on the 8th December if it decides to proceed.

You can view the PDF here of the “Final independent report on potential socioeconomic impacts of City Status” or depending on device, viewable below:

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