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Politicians united over Wrexham city bid; Pulling together for status.

Byline: MATTHEW GEORGE

MPs from across the bitter political divide united last night to urge Wrexham to bid for city status.

A new contest has been launched to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and they say the town is in a prime position to win.

But contrary to reports there has been no formal bid yet, with the council yet to decide.

Local authorities from across the UK have been invited to join the race, as part of the celebrations of the Queen's 60 years on the throne.

Existing cities also get the chance to bid for a Lord Mayoralty - but only one award of each will be made.

Welsh Office Minister David Jones will support a bid, noting the great strides made since three previous attempts, the last for the Golden Jubilee in 2002.

The Clwyd West MP said: "It is only natural that Wrexham should be recognised as a city - it is already seen as the 'capital' of North Wales and is already a favourite for many to win city status as the educational and industrial hub of North Wales.

"As someone who was brought up in the Wrexham area, I want to see Wrexham given the boost it deserves after the significant redevelopment that has taken place in both civic and public areas of the town.

"A city status for Wrexham would be the crowning glory for the town that has evolved to become a city of the future."

Wrexham's Labour MP Ian Lucas was in the rare position of agreeing with his Tory rival - although he did blast the Liberal Democrat council for "dithering" over the issue. "I am pleased to hear about support from David Jones, and I've been calling since January on the council to launch a bid, but they've been dithering.

"There is a strong feeling among a lot of local businesses, the university and the civic society in Wrexham that we should go for it, but a complete lack of leadership by the council.

"It is absolutely essential we show a bit of ambition, and I can't understand those who say being a city would be a bad thing.

"I would like us to be going hell for leather for it, and I was very upset when we did not get it last time.

"But I think we are very well placed to do it, and in Wales we think we are the people in pole position."

Cllr Bob Dutton, Lead Member for Communities and Performance, confirmed the council had not yet made a decision. "Now that full details of the competition have been made available councillors will be asked their views and the views of our partner organisations and the public will all be taken into account before council make any decision about submitting a bid.

"Members will expert to receive a full report on the implications shortly."

The last competition saw Preston, Newport, Stirling, Lisburn and Newry become cities, and Exeter acquire a Lord Mayor.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is in charge of the Diamond Jubilee, said: "This competition will ensure that there is a lasting legacy that will remain long after the festivities are over."

Councils have six months to submit their entries, with winners announced in the first half of 2012.

Wales currently has five cities, after Newport joined Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor and St David's, while Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Newtown and St Asaph applied last time.

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Wrexham is a favourite to win city status, already seen as the 'capital' of North Wales and its educational and industrial hub Labour MP Ian Lucas
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 3, 2010
Words:598
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