Wales

Wrexham 'needs to be a city to fulfil potential'

Henblas Square, Wrexham
Image caption Henblas Square shopping complex has been empty for a number of years but is set to come back to life

Wrexham needs to become a city in order to realise its full potential, it has been claimed.

Wrexham council's new chief executive Ian Bancroft said the area needs to be aspirational in spite of financial challenges.

The authority needs to make cuts of £18m over the next two years.

But Ian Bancroft said he believed the 130,000-population town had most of the attributes needed to become a city, after missing out to St Asaph in 2012.

St Asaph, which is about 30 miles away and has a population of 3,400, was awarded city status as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

"It generally happens when there's a major royal event," said Mr Bancroft, who took up the role in September.

"The reality for me is we need to already be seen as a city by the time that comes along."

Image caption Wrexham's Racecourse Ground will host its first Wales international football match for 10 years in 2019

Mr Bancroft added: "If you look at a city it has a football club, it has a university, it has a hospital, it has a prison.

"We have all those institutions that make a city, so we need to be a city."

Meanwhile, council leader Mark Pritchard said the authority needed to continue investing in local infrastructure moving forward.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported he highlighted the approval of 50 apartments above shops on Henblas Square as an example of how town centre businesses can be helped to prosper.

The shopping precinct has sat largely empty in recent years following the departure of major retailers such as BHS.

However, plans are afoot to attract new businesses and a major sports retailer is set to take the place of the department store in the new year.

"There's green shoots now coming from Wrexham, I really believe that," Mr Pritchard said.

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