Top businessmen call for Wrexham to become North Wales regional capital

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Wrexham Business Professioals meeting at Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University, Wrexham. Officials and guest speakers, from left, Barry Lewis, Lloyd Morris Electrical, Mario Kreft, Pendine Park, Gwyn Edwards, Neil Asbridge, Bank of England, Peter Butler, GHP Legal, Dr Helen Paterson, Chief Executive, Wrexham County Borough Council, Philip Gerrard Jones, Gerrards Bakery, Alan Jones, Village Bakery, Professor Graham Upton, Vice Chancellor Glyndwr University and Henry Platten, Treble9

A campaign has been launched to secure official recognition for Wrexham as the regional capital of North Wales.

The call came from a trio of top local businessmen at a meeting of the influential group, Wrexham Business Professionals, that’s made up of the town’s accountants and solicitors

Around 80 key figures from area’s business and financial community came together in the Catrin Finch Centre at Glyndwr University for the latest meeting of the group.

Amongst guests were the patriarchs of two of Wales’ top bakeries, both based in Wrexham – Alan Jones, chairman of the Village Bakery and Philip Gerrard Jones, chairman of Gerrards Bakery.

They pointed out that Wrexham is the largest town in North Wales by some distance and is home to the biggest industrial estate in Wales and the second biggest in the UK.

The successful duo also referred to a Royal Mail survey showing that the LL11 postcode, which covers a large part of Wrexham county borough, has been named in the top 10 most desirable places to live in Wales.

The study, undertaken for Royal Mail by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, calculated the most desirable areas by looking at factors like good schools, access to green spaces, good employment prospects, the availability of affordable housing and average commuting times.

Taking some of the top spots were Bradley, Brymbo, Brynteg, Bwlchgwyn, Coedpoeth, Cymau, Ffrith, Gwersyllt, Gwynfryn, Llandegla, Minera, Rhosrobin, Stansty and Tanyfron.

Alan Jones, whose family firm has three bakeries in the Wrexham area and was named as Wales’s fastest growing in 2013 and Wales’ fastest growing manufacturer last year, isn’t surprised by the findings of the survey.

He said: “Over the past few years companies such as mine have seen some amazing growth and the new access road to Wrexham Industrial Estate has given us an even greater advantage. We also have so many other important assets, like Glyndwr University and the museum.

“Given that Wrexham is clearly such a great place to live and to work, I absolutely think it should be officially recognised as the capital of North Wales.”

Philip Gerrard Jones, chairman of Gerrards, the oldest family firm of craft bakers in Wales established in 1838 and also based in LL11, agreed, saying: “It’s excellent that parts of our borough have been confirmed as so desirable because we need to attract lots more people to work in the new jobs that are now being created in the area as we head out of the recession.

“With all that’s going on here economically at the moment Wrexham really ought to be designated as the capital of North Wales.”

Their views were shared by Mario Kreft, who has presided over the phenomenal growth of his LL11-based Pendine Park care organisation.

He said: “Wrexham is certainly already the business capital of North Wales and is also its economic powerhouse.

“It’s home to some of the largest and most successful companies in Wales and we also have other incredible assets such as the university and the football club, which is in this year’s FA Trophy final.

“It’s also very encouraging to see the results of the survey which show the LL11 postcode area has some extremely desirable places to live because we need to attract people with the best new skills to the area.

“I believe Wrexham now definitely ought to be officially recognised as the capital of North Wales.

Wrexham Business Professionals chair Peter Butler, of GHP Legal, said: “It’s interesting these views should be put forward by such influential people at a meeting of our organization which is the glue which binds the local business community together.

“I agree that Wrexham should officially become the regional capital of North Wales. Indeed, it should have the status of a city.

“We are seeing improvements in all sectors of the local economy and certainly in manufacturing and service industries.

“City status would help to make the area even more attractive and bring additional people to live and work in Wrexham.”

A keynote speaker at the meeting was former policeman Henry Platten, who is now on a different beat – patrolling cyberspace to keep businesses safe.

The ex-sergeant, who has also worked as a BBC journalist, set up set up internet security firm eTreble9 with wife, Danielle. A great deal of their business is involves helping firms in North Wales battle cyber threats.

Looking particularly at the threats faced by firms from the various forms of social networking, he said: “Networking can be brilliant. However, my message is use it but use it in a safe way.”

He added: “Anything online can be accessed, anything can be found, without people even needing to hack you through something that is now known as social engineering.

“My company recently carried out an online security check for a client and within just 15 minutes found out an incredible amount of information about him and his family, such as the names of both his parents, his daily route to work, his personal mobile phone number and even the scout group his kids are members of.”

Mr Platten gave a number of insider tips on how to safe online, including steps to take when using free wi-fi connections outside the home and logging on to certain social networking sites.

Also speaking at the meeting was Professor Graham Upton, the new interim vice chancellor of Glyndwr University.

He explained how the university was keen to build closer links with business and industry in Wrexham and North Wales generally and play a part in meeting their needs.

On hand to give the meeting one of his regular briefings on the current economic situation, both nationally and internationally, was Neil Ashbridge who announced that he is shortly to retire as the Bank of England’s Agent for Wales, a role he has held since 2009.