WREXHAM’s rivals for city status are starting to emerge – and it looks as though the town will face some stiff competition.

From the Cornish idyll of St Austell with a population of just 22,000 to the urban sprawl of Reading, the field is wide open.

Also announcing bids are Middlesbrough in the north-east of England and the popular seaside resort of Blackpool.

And more contenders are likely to enter the race before bidding closes on May 27.

Only one new city is expected to be chosen from across the UK as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

But Derek Griffin, former chief executive of Wrexham Council, remains confident Wrexham stands a good chance of winning.

He said: “We have to respect the strength of the other campaigns but Wrexham’s got a very good case.

“There’s no reason why the town shouldn’t make a strong application, especially if the people of Wrexham get behind the bid and really believe in it.

“All the other applicants are strong contenders but there’s a lot that Wrexham has to offer.”

And MP Ian Lucas also has faith in Wrexham’s prospects.

He said: “Wrexham is, I believe, the only contender from Wales and is an important regional centre. Shops, industry and colleges are all based here.

“We now have a university and a great sporting tradition with Wrexham FC and the Crusaders now in the town.”

He added: “Wrexham combines tradition and heritage, such as St Giles Church, with ambition and modern development.

“We deserve recognition for our progress.”

St Austell is attempting to offer something different by putting forward a ‘green bid’ to capitalise on what it believes are its strong environmental credentials. It is bidding under the slogan “St Austell Bay: a new city for a new world”.

The town’s mayor, Jill Trewhella, said she felt its bid was an opportunity to put the town on the map.

She said: “We know we cannot compete in terms of historic buildings, population size or employment. But there is nothing wrong with being small.

“There is a slim chance of victory, but it is there.”

What do you think of the contenders announced so far? Have your say at www.leaderlive.co.uk