A WELSH Assembly minister has highlighted the importance of Wrexham to Wales as a whole.

But finance chief Jane Hutt declined to be drawn on any potential attempt by the town to achieve city status.

Ms Hutt was visiting Waterworld Leisure and Activity Centre to see a scheme involving a combined heat and power unit which will eventually deliver savings estimated at £19 million as well as helping to achieve 50 per cent carbon footprint reductions in Wrexham County Borough.

The power unit at Waterworld in Hold Road, Wrexham has been installed with support from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Invest to Save fund.

Asked about her views on whether Wrexham should become a city, Ms Hutt said it was not a matter for her to engage in. Earlier she had described Wrexham as a vibrant and very important Welsh town.

Turning to the power unit, Ms Hutt said: “In this difficult financial climate it is even more important that the Assembly Government continues to find ways to help support the drive for greater public sector efficiency and innovation.

“The project here in Wrexham is an excellent example of what can be achieved. The combined heat and power plant at Waterworld shows what can be done to reduce CO2 emissions and generate efficiency savings.

“As part of an extensive programme, developed in collaboration with the Carbon Trust, it represents a very positive step by Wrexham Council in working towards reducing the authority’s carbon footprint that overall will also deliver efficiency savings of up to £19m by 2015-16.

“Projects such as this one in Wrexham will help to protect funding for public services and also ensure careful stewardship of our environment.”

Speaking about the overall financial situation facing the country, Ms Hutt said the Assembly Government was doing its best to act as a shield in protecting vulnerable members of society. We are underfunded by the UK government. We have to play our part in reducing the deficit,” she said.

Ms Hutt emphasised the hard work being undertaken in a wide range of services such as health and education on behalf of the people of Wales.