A LEADING politician has talked up Wrexham’s chances of being named UK City of Culture 2025 after confidently declaring “we will win”.
Wrexham Council executive board member Hugh Jones has presented the case for the county borough to move to the next stage of its application to hold a year of cultural festivities.
In October, Wrexham was one of eight places in the UK long-listed to become the next city of culture, and the only location in Wales.
Hopes are high that it will succeed after bookmakers made the area the joint-favourite to replace current hosts Coventry.
There was also widespread political support for the bid at a meeting of senior councillors held today (Tuesday, December 7).
Conservative group leader Cllr Jones said winning locations had attracted millions of pounds in extra investment, creating jobs and drawing thousands of visitors.
He said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity and it’s a unique opportunity for the whole of the county of Wrexham to have this status.
“If we look at the report, we can see the prize that is on offer when you see the benefits that those cities that have won city of culture have gained.
“In Hull, for example, there was £219m of investment and 800 jobs spread across the whole community.
“In Coventry, there was £15m in UK Government grants and £100m in capital investment.”
He added: “We’ve got a hard task ahead of us, but we’ve got the resources and we’ve got a huge cross section of the community already behind us.
“There is a wellspring of support for this. We will build on it, we will go forward and we will win.”
Cllr Jones, the council’s lead member for people, previously voiced concerns that the application could be tarnished by a separate and more controversial bid for Wrexham to become a city.
Those proposals were also backed by executive board members today but he made clear it was not necessary for Wrexham to become a city to earn the cultural title, with regions and towns invited to apply.
The culture bid was supported by Plaid Cymru councillors, who later expressed opposition to the city status plans.
Group leader Marc Jones said: “We’ve got the building blocks in place here in Wrexham already in terms of a culture bid.
“I’m very confident that we can build on those foundations, and I hope this is a success.
“I share concerns that the city status bid will be conflated with the culture bid and that could prove problematic, but I wish the culture bid all the best.”
City of Culture is a competition run by the UK Government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport every four years.
Wrexham’s bid will partly focus on its moniker as “the spiritual home of Welsh football”.
The title relates to the Football Association of Wales being founded at a meeting at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel in the town in 1876.
The cultural significance of the Welsh language will also play a key part with the bid logo displaying the Welsh spelling of “Wrecsam”.
Council leader Mark Pritchard said: “Wrexham has so much to offer when you look at the history, the heritage and the culture.
“With the languages which are spoken in Wrexham, it’s a hotbed and a melting pot of culture throughout north Wales.
“But what makes Wrexham is the history and the warmth of the people of Wrexham.”
Executive board members backed progressing the culture bid to the next stage at the end of the debate.
They also approved the use of £50,000 of the council’s money to hold an event connected to the application.
The UK Government has also provided £40,000 in funding to support the bid’s development.
The City of Culture 2025 short-list will be announced in March next year, with the winner being crowned in May.