First Minister backs Wrexham city status bid

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WREXHAM deserves to be a city, says Wales’ First Minister, Carwyn Jones.

He restated his backing for any bid Wrexham might make to take on city status on a visit yesterday afternoon to the Brother factory in Ruabon, which was celebrating the 25th anniversary of setting up a production facility in Wrexham.

Last year the Labour government unveiled plans to invite towns across the UK to apply to become cities to mark the diamond jubilee of the Queen in 2012.

Although its last bid to become a city for the Queen’s 50th anniversary in 2002 was rejected, it is believed Wrexham is considering launching a fresh application.

Support for the idea has already come from a number of quarters, including former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain.

Carwyn Jones announced his support for any application from Wrexham soon after becoming First Minister last year.

And yesterday he told the Leader: “Wrexham certainly deserves to be a city.

“It is the major settlement in North Wales. If Bangor is a city then Wrexham should also be recognised.”

Mr Jones also gave his views on the controversial bid by Wrexham to site a new 1,500-place prison, should the new coalition government decide to go ahead with plans for a number of new jails across the UK put forward by the last Labour administration. While he was careful not to endorse Wrexham as the chosen location over other bids from Anglesey and Gwynedd, he said: “There is a desperate need for a new prison in North Wales.

“When it comes to deciding where new prisons should be built people tend to look at North Wales and the North West of England as one big region but obviously it is not.

“Ideally a new prison should be located wherever it is easiest to get to.”

Mr Jones said he was well-placed to speak about the subject as he had a prison in his own constituency in South Wales.

He added: “I think it has been fine.

“There were questions raised about it when it first opened but things have calmed down and a most people seem to be happy with it.”

Another topic Mr Jones discussed was the plan by Simon Wingett of Erbistock to build a 200ft Dragon Tower on the gateway to Wales just off the A5/A483 at Chirk.

He said: “There is no public money involved and I understand the costs are being raised from public subscription.

“It should be an interesting icon and I wish those behind it luck with their fundraising.”

See full story in the Leader

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