Wrexham MP Ian Lucas is backing calls for the town to be made a city to underline its credentials as the civic capital of the region.

Mr Lucas said that North East Wales could become a dominant economic force with the city of Wrexham at its heart.

He was speaking at a meeting of Wrexham Business Professionals, a group of local solicitors and accountants who collaborate on a non-competitive basis to promote the development of businesses, skills and employment opportunities for professional people.

Mr Lucas told the meeting at the town’s Ramada Hotel that Wrexham also needed a merger with Flintshire, improved road and rail links and high quality education and training networks.

Mr Lucas said: “As MP for Wrexham, I have never understood why Wrexham does not have a Crown Court and we need to argue for it to be a city and recognised as such.

“As someone who promotes Wrexham as part of my job, I cannot understand why some within Wrexham oppose this. Just as we need a university, we need city status too.

He added: “North-East Wales, made up of the counties of Wrexham and Flintshire, is one of the country’s most successful regions and one of the most economically important areas in the United Kingdom.

“For much of the last 30 years it has grown and created sustainable employment for its population. This is quite remarkable as, during that period, the economy has transformed.”

He said this had come about from the death of heavy industry based on coal and steel and its replacement by the hugely successful aerospace project led by Airbus at Broughton in Flintshire and including its suppliers across both Wrexham and Flintshire.

This was backed by a committed local workforce and together with investment incentives had attracted many other major businesses to the area, including Sharp, Sony and JCB as well as successful home grown enterprises such as Village Bakery, Moneypenny and Nu Instruments.

But he said that to build on that success the area needed an improved skills base forged by Glyndwr University and Coleg Cambria, integrated into the local economy and responsive to its needs.

It also badly needed to upgrade its road and rail infrastructure to avoid the danger of missing out on the likes of £200 million of investment if the electrification of the railways stopped at Chester.

Mr Lucas said: “Within Wales, it is important that Wrexham and Flintshire is recognised for what it is: the industrial power base of Wales itself meriting attention, development and investment.

“If that investment is not made, businesses will follow those businesses which have left the region to go elsewhere in our global economy.

“The Welsh Government is aware of the importance of infrastructure development. It invested tens of millions in introducing the Valleys and Vale of Glamorgan Lines.

“It is investing the whole of the 2014-19 Wales rail budget in electrification of the South Wales Main Line and Valleys Lines. It has recently announced an intention to invest £1 billion in the M4 motorway.

“It must recognise that investment in infrastructure in Wales’ most important industrial region, that of Wrexham and Flintshire, is required urgently. If not, there are fears that the jewel in the Crown could be lost to Wales.”

He said that Wrexham and Flintshire needed to speak with one voice and be united to avoid the danger of their ambitious neighbour, Chester, dominating the region.

Peter Butler, of GHP Legal, said: “City status would give Wrexham a huge fillip and provide the recognition it deserves as the commercial capital of North Wales.

“City status would undoubtedly help attract more inward investment and funding into the town and the surrounding area.

“It would also give us an enhanced reputation and status as well and raise awareness of what a great place this is and what a lot it has to offer. Wrexham has a lot going for it.

“It would be a boost for us and for North Wales and give the town more confidence about itself.”

The meeting was also given a brief outlook on the latest economic position by Neil Ashbridge, the Bank of England’s Agent for Wales, and a briefing on The Economy- The Recovery, Construction and Housing by Barbara Richmond, Group Finance Director for Ewloe-based housebuilding giants Redrow Ltd.