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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 10:22 GMT
Crowning glory hopes for city bids
Wrexham town centre
Wrexham is the largest town in north Wales
Two north Wales towns - hoping to be crowned a city to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee - are counting down the days to the final announcement.

Wrexham and St Asaph are competing against Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Newport and Newtown.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital
Wrexham has the largest hospital in north Wales

At least one of them is guaranteed the honour which will mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne.

This latest quest comes after Welsh bids lost out to England and Scotland in 2000.

The Welsh contenders failed to secure city status as part of the competition in December 2000 when Inverness, Wolverhampton and Brighton & Hove were awarded the accolade.

Wrexham's bid is hinged on the town being the largest in north Wales with an estimated population in 1991 of 41,320.

It is largely an industrial market town and claims to be the regional centre for employment in the manufacturing sector.

We may be small and lack political influence but we've had the attributes for 1,500 years

Andrew Thomas, St Asaph campaign leader

The town boasts the largest hospital in north Wales with Wrexham Maelor Hospital and is seeking a university title for the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education(Newi).

The town's Mayor, Councillor Sandy Mewies says that Wrexham has a lot to offer: "Wrexham has attained so much over the past 10 years.

"With two urban civic cities in south Wales and no equivalent in the north, city status for Wrexham can help achieve balance in Wales.

"We have gone from an industrial market town to a thriving modern city-in-waiting."

The council believes being elevated to a city would benefit the local economy and create new jobs.

St Asaph Cathedral
St Asaph's already a cathedral

Meanwhile residents of St Asaph - which is also competing for the status - have argued the town is already a cathedral city and the only one in Wales not to be officially recognised.

St Asaph has a population of around 3,500 and historical roots which date back to 560 AD.

It boasts the smallest ancient cathedral in the UK and claims to have bred one of the primary preservers of the Welsh language.

In 1588 William Morgan from St Asaph translated the Bible into Welsh providing a unified Welsh language.

Denbighshire County Council are confident their submission for St Asaph has met all the requirements.

The status would allow the county councils to go out and sell Wrexham and St Asaph abroad

Stephen Welch, Chamber of Trade

Andrew Thomas, who is leading the St Asaph campaign said: "We may be small and lack political influence but we've had the attributes for 1,500 years.

"All the local people thought it was a city, we thought it was a city until the 1970's...but we had no charter to say it was a city.

"We have support from all over the place, if it isn't a political decision we have a good chance."

Councillor Thomas has also argued that St Asaph would be an obvious choice to become a city with "Bangor on one side and Chester on the other".

Business leaders say awarding city status to either town in north Wales would increase investment prospects for the whole region.

Chief Executive of North Wales Chamber of Trade Stephen Welch said: "City status enhances an area, it allows businesses to look up and say do we want to to set up here."

"The status would allow the county councils to go out and sell Wrexham and St Asaph abroad and hopefully, in the long run, it'll bring in new jobs."

The Queen's main conditions for a town to be elevated to a city are 'notable features', including regional or national significance; historical - including royal - features; and a forward-looking attitude.'

St Asaph resident Charles Williams
"I've always thought it was a city"
Wrexham resident
"It's about time we had a city up in north Wales"
See also:

18 Dec 00 | Wales
Towns miss out on city status
25 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Jubilee city contest launched
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