Archives for posts with tag: councils

The new prison development in North Wales.

At first glance, maybe having Britain’s newest and biggest prison is nothing to shout about.

“It’s just a prison,” you might say. “Whose going to be excited about that?”

I am.

Let me explain.

Work on building Britain’s newest prison is well underway on Wrexham Industrial Estate. In fact, I was lucky enough enough to see progress first-hand on a recent site-visit.

On the site at the North Wales prison development.

The fact is, the benefit to our local economy is going to be huge.

It boils down to two things.

Business opportunities. And jobs.

While the prison is being built, the developers Lendlease will be looking to sub-contract to smaller firms for all kinds of materials and services.

While it’s unlikely that all of those contracts will be won by local firms, many Wrexham businesses will be in a brilliant position to compete for them.

Some local firms are already feeling the benefit. An example?

A significant contract was recently awarded to a Wrexham company specialising in steel works and erection.

And £10.6m in work has already been awarded to businesses within a 50-mile radius.

creating business opportunities

To help businesses understand the opportunities being created, we’ve worked with partners to stage networking events. And our business support team is encouraging local firms to bid for contracts.

But that’s just the construction. Once the prison is up and running, it’ll need all kinds of goods and services to keep it running.

Again, local companies will be able to compete for many of these contracts – we’ll be doing our best to encourage them.

All in all, the prison is expected to be worth up to £23 million a year to our economy.

So in 10 years, it may have generated £220 million for Wrexham and the surrounding region.

That’s a huge amount of money.

North Wales prison development.

creating jobs

I also mentioned jobs.

As well as opportunities for skilled workers, the construction phase is expected to provide around 100 apprenticeships.

That’s a great chance for people to learn skills on the job.

People like 18-year-old Daniel Davies from Penycae in Wrexham.

Daniel is training to be a civil engineer with local construction firm Jones Brothers. He spends one day-a-week at Coleg Cambria, and the rest of the week on site at the prison development.

He says: “An apprenticeship is the best way to learn skills and gain experience. And being paid is an incentive to work harder and progress within the industry.”

The point is, people like Daniel are learning important skills that will be retained in our local economy. That’s good.

Once its operational, the prison will provide around 1,000 jobs. Not to mention the jobs supported through contracts with suppliers and service-providers.

We’ve been working with colleges and universities to help make people aware of these career opportunities.

The video below was made at a recent student information day that engaged around 120 students and academics.

So is having Britain’s biggest and newest prison something get excited about?

Yes, actually. It is.

You’ve seen one office, you’ve seen ‘em all.

Well. Not quite.

The basic functions and features of offices have been pretty routine for a long time.

Chairs, tables, laptops, phones. A space to focus. To come together with colleagues and communicate. A marker between life inside work, and outside work.

But some organisations are going further and deeper in their quest to provide productive settings for employees.

There’s the Apple ‘donut’ in Cupertino.

And the Amazon ‘biosphere’ in Seattle.

And the Moneypenny ‘dreamland’ in…Wrexham.

That’s right. Wrexham-based Moneypenny will soon have an office-building that’s every bit as radical and innovative as the tech giants of our time.

Artist's impression of the new Moneypenny HQ in Wrexham.

more than just an office

The company – which provides outsourced call-handling, and has branches in New Zealand and Charleston, South Carolina in the US – has confirmed its continuing commitment to Wrexham by announcing plans to build a brand new HQ here.

Now that’s brilliant news for us. Moneypenny is a major local employer.

But what’s really interesting is the new-thinking behind the creation of the building.

Described as “10 acres of dreamland”, the £15 million development will include a treehouse, village pub and desks with spectacular countryside views.

It’ll also include nature trails, orchards and vegetable gardens.

Artist's impression of the interior of the new Moneypenny HQ.

somewhere you want to be

So what’s it all about? Why are companies with a reputation for forward-thinking creating these work-spaces?

Are they making a statement that supports their brand? Maybe. But it’s usually deeper than that.

It’s no accident that Moneypenny has consistently found itself on the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

It understands the benefits of having happy employees. And it achieves that partly by creating a brilliant working environment.

If you like where you work, you work better.

creativity

There’s another angle to this too.

Forward-thinking organisations need forward-thinkers.

You can bet that’s right at the front of company-thinking when the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, Moneypenny and thousands of other organisations design their working environment.

When you think of creative agencies, you think of games rooms, soft sink-down sofas, posh coffee and rooftop patios.

Yes it creates a good impression for customers. Of course it does. But it’s about nurturing a creative mindset among employees.

If you work in a setting where the rules and rituals feel malleable (within reason), your thinking becomes more malleable.

Moneypenny co-founder and director Ed Reeves says: “We literally sat down with a blank piece of paper and asked ourselves ‘what could we do with these 10 acres of dream greenfield land?’

“The answer was to create our ideal home – somewhere exciting and innovative, yet practical.”

Moneypenny HQ in Wrexham.

people

When a business like Moneypenny reveals a vision like this to the world, it sends out a brilliant message about Wrexham.

It says ‘this is a place where innovative companies can grow.’ How great is that?

(Take a look at my previous article Blood, Sweat and Ideas to learn more about innovation in Wrexham.)

Of course, buildings and office space are only part of the picture. It’s about people. It’s about investing in your workforce.

Wrexham Council – like everyone else in the public sector – is facing huge financial challenges. We’re reshaping and resizing to meet that challenge, and we can’t build incredible work-spaces for staff.

But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t invest in our employees and create the best environment and conditions we can.

If we invest in our staff, they’ll invest in our customers.

And investing in customers is at very heart of our business model.

Moneypenny HQ interior in Wrexham.

A few months ago, I posted an article called ‘Becoming Digital.’

It got 51 shares on LinkedIn, so I’m guessing it struck a chord?

I talked about the challenges – and opportunities – that councils face in their quest to foster truly digital cultures. And I promised to keep you posted on our progress here in Wrexham.

One of the most exciting things we’ve been working on since that first article is an online customer service portal.

The portal – called My Account – will provide a personalised experience for people who want to access our services online.

We’re going for a soft launch – offering things like council tax and benefits claims – and then gradually building the range of things people can use the portal for.

It’ll look and feel like part of our website, and the technology behind it is very clever.

We’re not the first council to do this. Far from it. But it’s an important step in our digital journey.

My Account screen shot

how will it help our customers?

Simple question. Simple(ish) answer.

A lot of people expect to be able to do certain things online. A lot of people prefer to do things online.

Pay for stuff. Apply for stuff. Book stuff. And so on.

Generally speaking, doing stuff online is convenient. You can do it in on your laptop, tablet or phone in front of the TV, on the commute to work or whenever you like – just so long as you have an internet connection.

For those people, making our services available online – in a way that’s intuitive and easy – will meet their expectations.

They’ll get the convenience they want.

However, not everyone likes to do things online.

So when it comes to switching the focus to digital, a lot of organisations talk about ‘channel shift.’

They’re talking about the need to get out there and actively encourage some customers to try the digital option.

Take the Barclays ‘digital eagles’ for example.

The company wants more customers to access its services digitally – and it realises it needs to help certain groups do that. Customers who might not be comfortable using online services.

Achieving this channel-shift is probably a bigger challenge than the technology. It doesn’t happen on its own.

We’ve been running workshops at our customer contact centre to show people how to use our new system, along with other basic skills – like how to set up and manage an email account.

They’ve been really popular, and it’s great to see people lose their fear of the technology – and suddenly grasp the benefits that online services can offer.

ok…so how does it help wrexham council?

It helps us in two ways.

It’ll help us understand our customers better.

And it’ll save us money.

The cost of handling enquiries face-to-face or over the phone is – typically – far more expensive than online.

National comparisons suggest the following averages…

• Face-to-face = £8.62 per enquiry
• Telephone = £2.83 per enquiry
• Online = £0.15 per enquiry

We’ve done our sums, and we think My Account will save us £38,000 in the first year, £141,000 in the second year and £210,000 in the third year.

At a time when public sector budgets are shrinking, those savings are going to be important.

It doesn’t mean we can – or want – to do away with one-to-one interaction where its needed. Algorithms and artificial intelligence can’t solve everything.

But for services suited to the internet, encouraging customers to get online will save us money or free it up for where it’s really needed.

The other big win for us is the data.

The portal will help us understand what services different sets of customers use, when they use them, how often and so on.

That could help us manage those services, predict peaks and dips in demand, and target resources.

We’re not talking ‘big brother’ stuff. Just the kind of thing most digitally enabled service providers do – all within the bounds of data protection and with terms and conditions explained to the customer.

The data will help us deliver services better.

So come to think of it, it’s the customer who wins in the end on all counts.

That’s got to be a good thing.

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”

OK. This is not Star Wars. It wasn’t that long ago, and it wasn’t very far away.

But when local authorities were first set up in the UK, you could argue they were set up to manage and deliver a set of individual services.

Planning. Social services. Fixing roads. Removing rubbish. Providing schools. And so on.

So the structure and mechanisms of local authorities grew around this service provision.

But the world has turned since then, and with it, the expectations of our customers.

So we’re moving away from this approach at Wrexham Council.

We’re changing the way we do things – our ‘operating model’ – and thus our thinking, structures and processes.

people and place

Instead of building our structures and processes around service provision, we’re building our new ways of working around the people and place we serve.

old vs new

In other words, we’re moving to a model that takes our customers and our county borough as its starting point. Not our services.

Of course, changing the operating model of a big organisation is easy on paper – difficult in practice. Particularly in the public sector.

So we’ve developed some ‘shape principles’ to guide us.

shape principles

  • Wherever possible, resolve customer enquiries at the first point of contact.
  • Allow services to focus on quality provision.
  • Minimise transactions (but not income).
  • Reduce performance and regulatory functions in proportion with the rest of the organisation.

Developing how we work around these principles is helping us shift the focus of our thinking to people and place, instead of services.

empowering customers

There’s a lot of talk about empowering customers these days – giving them tools and support so they can do more for themselves.

Some organisations have been doing it for years. And doing it really well.

Take the software provider Adobe.

The company has developed a powerful online community where customers with expertise are encouraged to share their knowledge with others – help them get the best from Adobe products, trouble-shoot problems and so on.

Essentially, they’ve created a platform that links customers together so they can do more for themselves.

If we’re changing the way we do things at Wrexham Council, we need to take our customers with us.

We need to give them the tools and linkages they need to contribute to services and facilities in their communities. So they can deliver, support, create, share and lead for themselves.

We’ve given this customer-empowerment initiative a name – Together in Wrexham – and I’ll be writing about this in more depth in the next few weeks.

evolution, not revolution

Reframing the relationship between a local authority and its citizens is not a sprint. It’s a marathon…with hills and bumps along the way.

The direction is clear. We’re moving away from focusing on a set of services to focusing on the people and place we serve.

But it won’t happen by itself, and embedding our shape principles in everything we do will be crucial if we’re going to succeed.

In the past decade, technology has fuelled human creativity in incredible ways.

We can all capture film footage. Or take a photo and apply filters to it. Write a song and upload it to the internet. Or write a blog like this.

And we can share these things with friends and strangers all over the world.

Web-based technology has brought previously exclusive creative pursuits to the masses. And it’s pretty amazing.

But every now and then, I’m reminded of the satisfaction that comes from more ‘analogue’ forms of creativity.

Things that we think of as quaint or old-fashioned sometimes. Like knitting.

Yes. Knitting. You heard me right.

I learnt this skill from my grandma when I was little. And I still really enjoy it.

It’s therapeutic and offers a different kind of satisfaction to blogging, digital photography and so on.

And it’s still useful too.

I recently started knitting poppies to sell in the run-up to Remembrance Day this November. I get satisfaction from knitting them, and the Poppy Appeal gets the proceeds.

Useful.

Knitted poppies for the Poppy Appeal.

I’ll knit as many as I can, and share the pattern and encourage others at Wrexham Council to knit them too.

In fact, one colleague from Wrexham Waterwold (our leisure centre) has promised to learn to knit so he can make one. And if he does, his colleague says she’ll give £10 to the appeal.

I’ll hold them to that.

I’m also busy knitting banana socks (don’t ask), making jam…and I’ll soon be tackling the vegetable plot in the garden again.

Home-made jam.

But the only point I’m really trying to make is that crafting and growing things by hand is still great fun.

And a welcome break from our wonderful but all-consuming super-connected world.

(ps – If you’d like me to send you the knitting pattern for the poppies, drop me a line. The more we make and sell, the more we raise for a brilliant cause!)

It’s that time of the year.

The internet is jammed with articles about what happened over the past 12 months. And predictions about what’s going to happen over the next 12 months.

And I’m about to contribute to the congestion, so apologies in advance.

Here’s a quick run-down of five things that were big for local government in 2014…and which I expect to be even bigger in 2015.

1. digital transformation

They say that companies ‘born’ on the internet have an easier time embracing digital opportunities than companies born offline.

Obviously, local government wasn’t born online, so embracing the exponentially growing trends and possibilities offered by digital can be painful for the public sector.

Although we’ve been evolving our digital capability at Wrexham Council for a few years, it was only in 2014 that we really started our journey towards true digital transformation.

Harnessing the true potential of digital will remain one of the biggest challenges facing the public sector in 2015.

2. the impact of the internet on the high street

E-commerce is an amazing development that’s brought many benefits to consumers and businesses. I shop online. Chances are you do too.

But the impact on the high street is tangible. Empty shops and closing-down sales are a common story.

That leaves councils with a difficult problem: how can they re-energise their town centres in an age when people don’t have to visit the high street to buy goods?

In Wrexham, we laid the foundations for an exciting project in 2014 that will help regenerate our town centre (you can read about it in my previous article ‘Disruptive Technologies.’)

And working out how to breathe new life into high streets will remain a priority for local authorities in 2015.

3. going back to the floor

The idea of senior managers going back to the shop floor to spend time working with front line staff isn’t new.

But the practice has started to be perceived as a little clichéd recently.

It’s a shame. Because going back to the floor can offer genuine benefits.

I’ve spent time with several of our front-line teams at Wrexham Council in recent months and it was useful on many levels.

And as budgets shrink and services need to be ever-more focused, the need for senior managers to work with and understand the challenges and ideas of front-line staff will be even more pressing.

You read it here first. Going back to the floor will (or at least should) be important to many public sector leaders in 2015.

4. all work and no play is no good

Get life outside of work right, and you can get a lot more out of your working life too.

It isn’t easy. Life is busy, and balancing time is tough. But giving yourself and employees the freedom to enjoy life outside of work can increase enthusiasm and productivity levels.

I spent a bit of time thinking about this in 2014 and – in an age when employees find it far more difficult to escape the office because of digital and mobile technology – encouraging play will be as important as ever in 2015.

5. volunteering

Towards the end of 2014, we launched our Together in Wrexham initiative.

A scheme to encourage more individuals, communities and groups to come together to help make a difference.

As councils shrink, helping communities grow and encouraging individuals to volunteer some time, knowledge or skill to help others will be important in Wrexham and many other parts of the UK.

So there it is.

My contribution to the ‘looking back / looking forward’ bottle-neck of stories as we start the new year!

I’m not a PR expert. I’m not an advertising expert. But I’m a consumer.

And it seems to me – as a consumer – that something has changed in the past few years.

The hard “buy this product – it will change you life” message seems to have softened. Or at least, the way the message is delivered has softened.

where have all the straplines gone?

Nearly every business and organisation used to have a strapline that promised something great.

Councils and government were always talking about “making life better” or “creating happiness” and so on.

Global brands urged us to “think different”. To “just do it.”

But it feels like a lot organisations – including some of the biggest brands in the world – have quietly retired these once iconic marketing phrases. Or at least wound down their usage.

And instead of saying “our product will change your life”, they’re saying “look at what these other people thought of our product.”

Signposting, instead of hard-selling dialogue with customers.

I’m beginning to wonder why that might be?

consumer awareness

Maybe it just feels dated now?

Or maybe, in a socially-connected age when opinions, product-experiences and reviews are just a smart-phone away, consumer awareness (and scepticism?) has increased.

Perhaps we don’t trust organisations to appraise their own product or idea (perhaps we never did, but had no choice until now?). We want to know what other people think.

Maybe savvy organisations know that.

And in local government, maybe it’s even more important that we embrace these changes.

People trust public-sector organisations to provide reliable, factual, useful information.

But maybe they don’t trust subjective commentary about how good things are?

If a council says “this is a brilliant place to live, work, grow a business” and so on, a lot people are going to respond with “you would say that…it’s your job to say that and to help to make it a great place for these things.”

So for me, shouting loudest and longest doesn’t cut the mustard any more. For me, it’s not sensitive or thoughtful enough.

banging the drum for wrexham

In Wrexham, we’re communicating our message just like everyone else.

We want people to know that this is a great place to grow a business, to study, live, visit and so on. I know because I live here. And I’m a consumer.

But a lot of our work has shifted away from the bold rhetoric of a few years ago.

We try to sign-post audiences to what other people are saying.

Instead of tweeting ‘Wrexham is brilliant’ every five minutes, we sign-post to media stories, social content, blogs and other sources that communicate our message for us.

Content posted by product-users if you like – people who’ve experienced Wrexham and have an opinion.

We write case studies that focus on the success and experiences of different businesses here, and so on.

Businesses like Moneypenny, Brother or UCML.

This feels right.

Just shouting loud and long about how great you are doesn’t work any more.

on the flip-side…

There’s an irony here.

As advertisers and marketing people have softened their sales pitch, we – as individuals – have started to hard-sell ourselves in a way that never used to be possible.

People have always said things to try and look good in front of their friends and peers. That’s human nature.

But social media has amplified that.

So much so that the phrase ‘humble brag’ has entered the English language – used to describe bragging (usually online) that’s couched in false self-deprecation.

“So surprised to be invited to speak at the Conference of Something Massively Important. Little old me?!” That sort of thing.

So – as advertisers have grown more humility – we’ve lost some of ours.

Strange?

Ten years ago, the idea of a shop that deliberately pops up for a few days or weeks, and then disappears, would have seemed a little weird.

But the retail landscape has changed massively in the past decade (check out my previous post ‘disruptive technologies’)…and the ‘pop-up shop’ is now a firm (albeit temporary) fixture on our high streets

The concept was born in the late 1990s, when a US retailer came up with the idea of selling niche stock in a location for a short period of time, before moving on to another town or city.

But it’s only in recent years that the idea has really caught on – partly because the opportunities have increased, with more vacant space on the high streets.

Duncan Robinson noted in the Financial Times recently that “the number of pop-ups in the UK has rocketed.”

He goes on to say: ”Their rise is partly because pop-ups offer an elegant solution to a persistent problem: empty shops.”

Even big corporate firms like Nike have started to get in on the act.

In the right circumstances, I think they make a lot of sense. For both commercial landlords (temporary rental income is better than none) and retailers that trade on a seasonal basis, mostly online, or just looking to test the market.

pop-ups in wrexham

We’ve seen some great examples here.

Wrexham Football Club regularly makes use of temporary space in our high-footfall areas at key times of the year.

Wrexham FC pop-up shop in Eagles Meadow.

Commercial manager Steve Cook says: “We definitely experience seasonal peaks in terms of merchandise sales, so pop-ups have been great for us.

“There’s no great science to it really. It’s about being flexible and looking for opportunities during periods when you know the demand will be high.”

Steve says pop-ups help the club reach customers it wouldn’t normally reach.

“There are people who might not drive to the football ground to buy merchandise from the club shop, but they’ll buy something if they’re passing us in the town centre.

“If you get the right location and deal, a temporary shop can be a big asset.”

Another example is Nightingale House.

The hospice has to raise around £2 million a year and has several permanent shops – but recently decided to open a pop-up on one of the main roads into Wrexham town centre.

Director of income generation, Caroline Siddall, says: ”It’s the first time we’ve tried a pop-up and it’s been a huge success.

“Because it’s only a temporary commitment, you feel you can be a bit more adventurous and try things you normally wouldn’t.

“Different products, incentives and so on.

“Another big advantage is the low set-up costs.

“You don’t feel you have to spend a fortune sprucing the shop up. Consumers understand it’s a temporary store and don’t expect plush fittings.

“We’ve been so lucky with our first pop-up. It’s in a great location.

“We’ll definitely consider more pop-ups in the future.”

the temporary nature of things

For me, the pop-up concept – while new and interesting –  isn’t surprising.

It’s in tune with the more temporary and agile nature of things today. Things appear, evolve, and disappear far more quickly than they used to.

That’s not a bad thing. It just means we live in a more fluid, faster-moving world.

If you’re thinking about setting up a pop-up, check out this article: ‘Tips on starting up a pop-up shop.’

 

making sandcastles on Harlech beach.

This summer, I went to Harlech beach and built a sandcastle.

Well. It was more like a fortified complex – complete with a moat and internal road infrastructure. I don’t do things by halves.

Fresh air. Sand. Sunshine. Quality time with my family. And the chance to do something…well…totally fun.

I felt relaxed and really enjoyed the rest of my week off – coming back full of energy the following Monday.

I’ve thought a lot about the importance of life outside of work since then. How it can re-energise us and makes us even more effective when we’re at work.

What I’m saying is, get life outside of work right, and you can get a lot more out of your working life too.

But it isn’t easy. Life is busy, and balancing time is tough.

digital detox

Employers have been talking about ‘work-life balance’ since the 1970s (maybe longer), and it’s always been a challenge for most people.

Work is a big part of life and we don’t always want to switch off at the end of the day. Work can be fun. It can be interesting.

But – in an age of 24/7 digital connectivity – learning to switch-off and re-energise has become more difficult.

When you leave the office, you haven’t really left the office.

Because it’s in your hand or pocket. It’s on the dining room table when you get home. Or next to the TV when you sit down at night.

It’s in every internet-connected device you have access to. Desktop. Laptop. Tablet. Mobile phone.

Work is just a smart-phone alert away.

And a lot of the tools we use for work, we use for play too. Social media, for example.

So what to do?

Firms that specialise in helping people ‘unplug’ via non-digital vacations and events have sprung up in recent years.

Take Digital Detox.

The company says that it’s “dedicated to creating balance in the digital age.”

A closer look at the website reveals more.

“In an era of constant Silicon Valley acceleration, over-abundant screen-time, always being available, endless networking, information-overload, tech-driven anxiety…many have referred to us as the ultimate decelerator.

“We help you slow down.”

Personally, I don’t feel it’s impossible for me to unplug when I need to. But you can see where they’re coming from.

simple things

For me, work-life balance – and making time for myself and my family – is about doing the simple things.

It’s about more sandcastles. More days on the beach. More time with the family.

But here’s the important caveat. It’s about more of these things over a realistic time-scale.

Just like Nigel Marsh says in the TED talk below, you’re never going to pack everything you want into every single day.

If you try, you’ll just beat yourself up because you failed.

It’s about creating balance over a realistic period of time.

And I really believe that if you get it right – and build those sandcastles – you’ll be happier and more effective in your work.

The internet is full of facts.

Search for facts and stats on just about anything, and you’ll find more than you can throw a stick at.

The fact is (bad pun), a lot of the claims, statistics and data that crops up is pretty much impossible to prove or disprove.

351 babies will be born in India by the time you’ve finished watching the film above.

How does anyone actually know that? Or come to that figure?

Well, I guess in many instances, facts like this begin with a rational, evidence-based figure, which is then amplified or broken down to show its implications over a period of time.

It’s a leap.

The end result is sometimes referred to as a ‘factoid.’ In other words, ‘facts’ whose evidence or logic isn’t clear. Sometimes spurious.

Is that a bad thing? Well…it depends on the context.

A lot of the time, these ‘factoids’ are used to paint a true picture. A trend or direction of travel that is – in essence – hard to argue with.

Their purpose is to tell a bigger story. I think most people understand that.

wrexham fact(oids)s

Over the next three years, an average of £1m a day will be invested into Wrexham Industrial Estate.

How do we know that’s true?

Well, we don’t. Not for sure. It’s a leap based on credible information.

In other words, we know of anticipated investment into the industrial estate over the next three years that – if divided up – equates to £1 million a day.

In reality, it might be more, it might be less, and it’ll come in spurts.

But it helps us tell a true story. It shows there’s huge confidence in Wrexham as a business location – and it brings that story alive.

Here’s a few more fact(oid)s about the ‘capital’ of North Wales.

  • Around 30% of the UK residential population and 50% of manufacturing businesses are within a two-hour drive.
  • Around 8,000 people work on Wrexham Industrial Estate.
  • Between now and 2025, the population in Wrexham is expected to grow more than the rest of North Wales put together.
  • Around 10,000 additional homes will be built in the county borough by 2028.

The figures might not be pinpoint, but they paint a true picture.

It’s a pretty good picture.

a sense of belonging?

One final thought.

I’ve always been interested in what makes people feel like they ‘belong’ to a place.

What makes me feel like I belong in Wrexham?

Facts?

Well. Not really.

It’s not the facts and figures. It’s the bigger stories they help to paint.

Example?

Wrexham is a university town.

Glyndwr has around 8,800 students. More than 1,500 commercial and academic partners worldwide. And an average graduate starting salary 16% higher than the Welsh average.

But it’s not the stats and figures that stick in my mind. It’s the bigger picture they help to paint. The image of Wrexham as a place of learning, skills and creativity – a place I want to belong to.

When it comes to towns and cities, facts are disposable. They come and go.

But the stories they help build? They stick.

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