North East Wales

St Asaph in north Wales named Diamond Jubilee city

St Asaph has been awarded city status as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The small Denbighshire town - with a population of 3,400 - was given the honour along with Chelmsford, Essex and Perth, Scotland.

A competition was launched to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne, attracting 25 bids including one from Wrexham.

Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan said she was "proud and delighted" at the news.

Armagh, in Northern Ireland, will have a Lord Mayor, the UK government said.

St Asaph had been given 33/1 odds by bookmakers to be chosen as the newest Welsh city.

"In June, towns and cities across the United Kingdom will host celebrations to mark the 60 years of Her Majesty the Queen as our ruling monarch," said Mrs Gillan.

"St Asaph will be able to take part in these celebrations with a new sense of vigour and pride in their new city status.

"Wales, and in particular north Wales as a whole will go from strength to strength, reflecting this new honour.

"What a great day for our brand new city of St Asaph."

The award of city status is ceremonial and does not come with additional powers, funding or functions.

The last civic honours competition was held in 2002 to mark the Golden Jubilee when Newport was made a city.

However, St Asaph is more than twice the size of fellow cathedral city St Davids in Pembrokeshire - which claims to be the smallest city in the UK, with a population of nearly 1,600.

It was granted a royal charter by the Queen in 1995.

'Noble aim'

St Asaph's city application, which is available toview on its community website, was put forward by a group including the local mayor and Bishop of St Asaph.

It said being awarded city status "would serve to regulate a situation which, for years, has meant that St Asaph has been devalued in comparison with all of the other ancient cathedral cities in Wales which have been granted the status by right".

Bishop of St Asaph, Rt Rev Dr Gregory Cameron said: "I am delighted that these decisions are made not on the size of the population but on the quality of community life.

"St Asaph is a delightful community of which I am very proud to be a part."

Chris Ruane, MP for Vale of Clwyd, said: "I would like to congratulate the civic leaders and the people of 'the city of St Asaph' who have pursued this noble aim for many years now.

"It was a disappointment that the status was not given before but not to be down-hearted they continued with their cause and can quite rightly be proud of their achievement."

In Wrexham, there was disappointment it failed in its own bid for city status but congratulations for St Asaph.

Image caption St Asaph business park provides jobs for 2,700 people in over 60 premises

Councillor Bob Dutton said he was "extremely disappointed bearing in mind the amount of effort and the way Wrexham has been developed over the years as a major centre".

He added that Wrexham wished St Asaph well for the future.

Professor Michael Scott, vice-chancellor of Glyndŵr University said the announcement came with mixed emotions as the university had a campus in St Asaph.

"However, we are disappointed that Wrexham has again lost out with its bid," he said. "A tremendous amount of hard work was put into the bid and it would have been a great boost for the town."

Denbighshire council leader councillor Huw Evans said: "St Asaph is a town with a lot of history and I'm very please that it's been given city status."

St Asaph hit the headlines last September when more than 400 people signed a petition calling for the removal of a newly installed sculpture in tribute to the local links of Victorian explorer HM Stanley.

But councillors said they could not afford to remove it because they would have to return an £18,000 grant.

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