Twenty years on, has becoming a city done Newport any favours?

As it is confirmed that Wrexham will be granted city status, Adrian Masters reflects on whether becoming a city has had any impact on his hometown of Newport.

Newport is where I grew up and where I still live. It was a town for most of my life but for the past 20 years, it's been a city.

I have been asking other people who live here if now, 20 years on, Newport feels like a city.

"It's starting to," one man said.

"There's more little independent shops going up and obviously you've got the market open so yeah, it's starting to feel a little bit more like people care about it a bit more."

People had mixed views on whether city status has benefitted the area, with one woman saying Newport was getting "more run down by the day".

Another person said: "No, because it's a bit dodgy here isn't it?"

I asked one woman who has spent most of her life in Newport if she had seen it change over the years.

"Yeah, it's getting more run down by the day", she replied.

I asked: "So not quite a city?"

"No not really", she replied.

Another person I spoke to agreed that they don't think 'city' when they think Newport.

They said: "It feels like a town...I suppose when you think of a city it's like high buildings everywhere and all that type of thing."

'We want pride, and I don't think that necessarily comes with city status'

When I was growing up, people used to say Newport should be a city because cities have cathedrals. And Newport has always had a cathedral, so I suppose you could say we've always thought a bit like a city.

At Barnabas art centre in the city, Janet Martin has been working with artists and others in Newport for 40 years.

She came here for what she called 'the village feeling' and isn't convinced by city status - not that she thinks the clock should be turned back.

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"Oh no I don't think you can go backwards, you've got to go forwards and make the best always with any situation," she said.

"But I think with Newport, more independent traders would be good. Helping independent traders would be good, to get that unique feeling.

"So it's not Coventry, so it's not anywhere else with plastic neon signs and eateries. We want independent traders, we want pride, and I don't think that necessarily comes with city status."

A city state of mind

There are new independent businesses that have sprung up in recent years.

Former steel worker Gavin Horton's coffee lounge is one of them. He thinks being a city brings opportunities.

Mr Horton said: "We have to understand that we have to be a big player, if we want to bring people in, if we want to bring sport, if we want to bring investment - things like the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC).

Gavin Horton believes city status is important for Newport in order for it to hold its own against nearby cities like Bristol and Cardiff.

"We need to be able to stand with our head up high and say we are here. Ok, we have a big city to the east, we have a big city to the west, we have to be able to hold our own against those guys."

Maybe that's the real secret - city status is about holding your own.

It's not just about businesses and it's certainly not a cure all for an area's problems. It's about thinking big, aiming high.

City status is a state of mind as much as anything else.