It's crunch time for council in move for city status bid

Reporter:

Rebecca Cole

FINAL crunch talks over Wrexham’s city status bid will take place tomorrow (Tue).

The future of the town’s status hangs in the balance as Wrexham Council’s executive board make a final decision on whether to proceed with an application.

At an executive meeting in January, members supported a bid in principle once a public consultation, via questionnaires at the Guildhall and on the council website, had been carried out.

But the results of that consultation, which closed on February 28, suggest the public do not back the council’s proposal to go ahead.

A report to go before councillors tomorrow shows almost twice as many people voted against the bid as those who voted for it – the official figures counted 503 for and 977 against.

And of six community councils asked to vote the result was again two to one against a city status bid.

Cllr Mark Pritchard, lead member for housing and planning, said: “When you look at the number of people who actually took part in the survey it’s very poor. We as a council should have spent a lot more time, money and effort to engage the public.

“I feel very strongly that we should have had a full blown referendum on city status so we could find out exactly what the people of Wrexham think.”

He also said that although the number of people who took part in the consultation was comparatively small there was a clear message.

“I’m a passionate believer in democracy and listening to the public and I won’t go against them.”

But Cllr Bob Dutton, lead member for communities and performance, said: “I will be happy to listen to the argument on both sides.

“It’s sad that the numbers who took part in the consultation process was so small, but the public was given an opportunity to tell the council how it felt.

“We will make sure we think carefully about the future of the town and the young people who will grow up in it and we will do our best to represent them fairly.

“I am keeping an open mind and believe we will make the right decision.”

A spokesman for the council said: “It was resolved at the executive board meeting on January 18 that a subsequent report on the outcome of the consultation exercise be submitted for the board’s consideration at its meeting on March 8, to assist it in coming to a final decision in the matter. It also resolved that the submission of a bid for city status be approved in principle.

“Therefore, the recommendation is in order to confirm the decision of the report of January 18 and to ask councillors whether or not they wish to now, in light of the outcome of the public consultation exercise, to consider submitting a bid.”

See full story in the Leader

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