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Job : Fri Sep 23, 2022
The prospect of the Tour of Britain heading to Wrexham should give residents confidence in its new city status, council leaders said.
Next year Wrexham will host the ‘big start’ stage of the UK’s biggest and most prestigious televised cycling event.
In 2015, Wrexham successfully hosted the first stage of the Tour of Britain and, earlier this year, the Women’s Tour.
And next week’s Wrexham Council executive board meeting will see members briefed on discussions to keep the elite event returning to the city in 2024 and 2025, as their support is sought for the plan to establish a strong relationship with the organizers.
At a press conference ahead of next week’s meeting, managing director Ian Bancroft and chief Cllr Mark Pritchard said securing the event was a sign of the weight city status Wrexham has given. They said it can confidently compete with other cities like Manchester to put on such events in a way it hasn’t been able to do before.
The reasons for bringing the event to Wrexham are outlined in the report which states: “Since its inception, the Tour Series has benefited host venues to the tune of approximately £20 million net.
“City tours, with over 10,000 spectators, typically generate a net economic impact of at least £400,000 through additional spending in hotels, pubs and cafes from visitors who come to town to watch the race .”
“As the series expands into 2023 and beyond, we expect the crowds to increase and the economic benefits to increase significantly.”
Cllr Nigel Williams, Senior Member for Economy and Regeneration, will present the report next week.
He said: “Wrexham have a proud sporting heritage, we have a wonderful football club, but there is still an opportunity to host nationally recognized sporting events at Wrexham.
“It’s going to be more than a one-day event (2023), there will be activities in the days before and after, children’s entertainment, community races. We can promote a healthy lifestyle and programs of work by bike.
“It’s not going to be just a one-time event, it’s something we want to build on every year, to get people back on their bikes.”
Chief executive Ian Bancroft said he hoped Wrexham would become a major venue for cycling in the UK.
He said: “It builds on the work we did to organize the women’s tour here earlier this year, and in terms of acting as a city and a city of culture, building long-term relationships with key events is really, really critical.
“Cycling is a healthy way of life, an active journey and we are one of the few places where you can cycle road, downtown, off-road and mountain. We can supply all potential categories of cycling.
“We don’t just run events for the sake of events, we actually do development work around cycling.”
He added: “It’s something that inspires people to ride the bike, so from a sport development perspective it’s something we build on.
“We are committed to a three-year period.
“The tour series is hosted in cities. It is specifically aimed at places like Manchester and Derby. We attract events that would only come to cities. We’re able to attract events that have city-level significance and I think that’s one of the benefits of getting city status.
“We operate in an environment where we can now do things that other places with equivalent titles could do that we couldn’t do before.”
Council leader Cllr Mark Pritchard added: “We are very ambitious, we want to hold major events in the town center and in Wrexham. It’s just one of many.
Speaking more broadly about what city status really means for Wrexham, Mr Bancroft compared it to places such as Nottingham and Edinburgh, cities with cities still at their heart.
He said, “The county borough has the rights of a city. It is how we use these rights that is important.
“It’s not a badge we were looking for, it’s about raising aspirations, acting on a different level, being able to get other economic opportunities like the Tour series.”
Cllr Pritchard added: “I saw someone say on social media that ‘Wrexham is a town with a town at its heart’ and I think that’s true, that sums it up nicely.”
Wrexham Council’s board meeting takes place on Tuesday 27 September.
By Rory Sheehan – BBC Local Democracy Reporter