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Wrexham seen better days but plenty to be proud of

Published date: 11 June 2014 |
Published by: Rhian Waller 
Read more articles by Rhian Waller  Email reporter


 

WHETHER people are concerned about grass cutting or shop closures, there is no shortage of things to grumble about in Wrexham.

Much of this is justifiable – amid a flurry of central and local government cuts, residents are seeing services like sports centres, libraries and public amenities placed under threat or closed entirely.

Things have come to a head when residents claim to be “embarrassed” to live in their home town.

The sentiment comes from a letter in the Leader which sparked sympathy from other residents who, when asked online, admitted they struggled to think about what ‘Wrexham has going for it’ and called the selection of shops “diabolical”.

But there are still plenty of people proud to be associated with the town, which retains a strong identity in the face of changing times.

We asked local councillors what they thought.

Cllr William Baldwin of the Little Acton ward said: “I do think the town has fallen into a little bit of decline. I run a barber’s shop in Wrexham and have done for 30 years, so I can see what’s going wrong.

“But there are massive efforts to get things going. There are plans afoot to make things better.”

The Leader learned last week that a massive £10.5m regeneration project in Wrexham is set to go ahead, as part of the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places programme.

AM for Wrexham Lesley Griffiths has hailed the news, as Wrexham has scooped almost a third of the £36m allotted to projects in North Wales.

Aside from that, Cllr Baldwin feels there are things to be proud of in Wrexham.

“There is a lot to root for. We’re doing a feasibility study for an art centre. We have a sense of history, we have the football club, we have St Giles’ church and we have the university.

“A lot has been done to improve the markets and the people in charge there have done a brilliant job. Now it’s just a case of getting people in.”

The UK as a whole has suffered years of economic doom and gloom following the 2008 recession, and Cllr Baldwin pointed out that looking at the town in isolation was not helpful.

He said: “We aren’t the only town with problems. I think residents here will be inclined to see the bad before anyone who doesn’t know the area as well.”

Cllr Rodney Skelland for the Bronington ward agreed.

He said: “Retail is changing all over the UK with the rise of internet shopping. We have to move with the times and find ways around these challenges.”

He said private investment in the town centre was key to turning things around.

He said: “We’ve got everything a decent sized town should have and probably more.

The market has picked up now and personally I think it’s a really nice place to live.

“It has one of the most vibrant night time economies in the area.

“I know that people from Chester and Shrewsbury come to Wrexham for a night out, which is a good thing.”

Cllr Skelland said that he was “disappointed” to find that people were “sitting at keyboards” and criticising the town without making any proposals to improve it.

He said: “I’d welcome suggestions from the public.

“As for what we have to be proud of, we have an art gallery, a museum and one of the biggest libraries in the area.”

Cllr Geoff Lowe of the Acton ward said that, to some degree, the town was at a “low point” of its history.

He said: “The town centre does need revitalising. There’s no question of that.

Traders go where there’s a profit, and salaries in Wrexham are not as good as they could be.

“The key is bringing in sustainable jobs with good salaries. The new prison may help with that.”

Cllr Lowe said he took pride in the town’s heritage and also in the efforts made by local people to improve where they lived.

He said: “If we forget our history, we don’t have much of a future. The D-Day celebrations last week reminded us that people from Wrexham fought for Wrexham.

We grew as a mining town, as a garrison town, and a leather-working town. It was a hive of industry.

“We have two National Trust properties on our doorstep.

“What heartens me is that there are people like those who tend Acton Park, those members of the Angling Association and young volunteers at the museum who really care about Wrexham.

“We also have a sense of community. I’ve been out today cutting verges and my neighbours have been at it as well.”

Cllr James Kelly of Borras Park did not have much time for critics.

He said: “I have lived in the town for 50 years. I’m quite happy to live here.

“There’s a lot to recommend it if people just look for it. I’ve brought both of my daughters up here and it’s a tremendous place with a lot on offer.”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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  1. Posted by: a cahill at 15:05 on 11 June 2014 Report

    Cllr James Kelly's comment is typical of the Don't listen Won't listen attitude of the council...the dinosaurs rule ok....when any kind of criticism is seen as an affront to the same old same old ways of his likes who with fellow dinosaurs have turned Wrexham into what it is today by turning a deaf ear to any new ideas...The mood is changing so maybe its time he moved over and accepted that all is not well with Wrexham

  2. Posted by: RolandCleth at 16:56 on 11 June 2014 Report

    Most of the people complaining will not have been oputside Wrexham for a number of years. Wrexham i sno worse than many similar sized towns up and down the country. Empty shops are common-place nationwide with many being replaced by nailbars, charity shops and coffee bars. Similarly, the list of high street retailers has been universal for a long time now. At least with Eagles Meadow we have something which is inviting unlike the old high street.

  3. Posted by: garrybutter at 06:25 on 12 June 2014 Report

    how sad is this article...my suggestion is a clean sweep..starting with council offices...then councillors..new ideas new blood needed...new impetus..my first idea is cheaper parking...

  4. Posted by: burman500 at 09:32 on 12 June 2014 Report

    Thoroughly agree with garybutter and a cahill - time the dinosaurs were extinct and new blood in - hey we've got £10M to spend !! 1st port of call the Bus Station - needs a revamp - stand signs havnt worked for years and the loos closing at 530pm ?? - get real wrexham council its the 21st century and some of us do work later than 530pm !!!

  5. Posted by: logic at 07:01 on 14 June 2014 Report

    wrexham council so many councillors ( how many is there in wrexham ) telling so many stories lets start saving money at the top get rid of all councillors and have a 7 or 9 person committee why is it 4 people put in for a job one gets that job and the other three get paid the same as the person that got the job lets all save money lets start with the councillors

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