COMMUNITY leaders in North Wales have welcomed plans to boost funding for prestigious events outside Cardiff.

The Welsh Assembly Government yesterday unveiled its Major Events Strategy, a 10-year plan to develop Wales as world-class host.

The strategy aims to spread opportunities and benefits to all parts of the country, building on the success of international events such as Rugby World Cup, held in Wales in 1999 and golf’s Ryder Cup to be staged in Newport in October.

The WAG’s major events unit will identify regional events that have the potential to grow and a dedicated fund will be set up to grow events outside the capital.

Councillors from Flintshire and Wrexham say North Wales has suffered from a lack of financing for events in the past.

But they are encouraged by the prospect of more funding in the future.

Cllr Dennis Hutchinson, Flintshire executive member for leisure, said: “I do think there is a North-South divide in terms of funding for events in Wales.

“Funding for major events has been predominantly concentrated in Cardiff and the valleys for many, many years.

“More financing for events in mid and North Wales would certainly be welcomed.”

Cllr Tony Sharps, Flintshire executive member for tourism, agreed that not been enough had been done to finance events in North Wales in recent years.

He said: “The cultural way of life in North Wales has been declining because of a lack of funding and parts of our cultural heritage are now missing.

“I welcome anything that supports the arts in North Wales. It’s very good news and I hope the funding helps us to put the Welsh back into Wales.”

North East Wales has missed out on events in the past, according to Cllr Bob Dutton, Wrexham Council’s lead member for communities and performance.

He added: “There are now great facilities in North Wales and opportunities could be created in the area. We have been concerned about the lack of funding in the past and have raised awareness in Parliament.”

The major events unit would establish an annual national conference to promote Wales as a destination for events.

Plans to co-ordinate the development of management skills and provide a free consultancy service on use of the Welsh language at events will also be included.

Launching the strategy for consultation in Caernarfon, Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said: “The past decade has seen a range of major events hosted successfully in Wales.

“These have brought many economic, social and cultural benefits and enhanced our reputation as destination for top-class events.

“Now is the time to build on this success and ensure we have a sound platform for Wales to continue competing to host these events and grow our own in an increasingly competitive global market.”