City Mission the Talk of the Towns; Big Dreams of Prosperity and Inward Investment Lie Behind the Race to Become One of Britain's Newest Cities. Do the North-West Contenders of Warrington, Wirral and Wrexham Stand a Chance? Reports by Larry Neild, Daniel Clein and David Jones

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), September 12, 2001 | Go to article overview

City Mission the Talk of the Towns; Big Dreams of Prosperity and Inward Investment Lie Behind the Race to Become One of Britain's Newest Cities. Do the North-West Contenders of Warrington, Wirral and Wrexham Stand a Chance? Reports by Larry Neild, Daniel Clein and David Jones


DOES city status have an impact on the economic well-being and growth of a town? Yes, say captains of industry and civic leaders.

Which is why Warrington, Wirral and Wrexham have all thrown their hats into the ring in the hope of being elevated to a status that has been enjoyed by places like Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff for decades.

It is a title that will not give any extra powers on a local authority. But it will give that added clout in business circles, particularly on the world stage.

For centuries cities have been regarded as important centres of population and activity. The very word originated in 13th century England and comes from an old Latin-based French word, cite.

The history of cities may be steeped in the past, but today's go-ahead towns are thinking firmly of the future, the 21st century and beyond.

It means that the label of being called a city is as likely to give celebrity status as much as anything. Which is why the contest will be a tough battle in the provinces.

There will be more losers than winners, given that in the whole of the 20th century only 17 towns were granted city status, an indication of the rarity of promotion to the premier league of civic pride.

The Queen has decreed that she will grant city status to a small number of towns in the UK to mark her Golden Jubilee in 2002.

The Lord Chancellor's Department has already announced what will be a competition, saying Her Majesty will grant a suitably qualified town in each of the four parts of the UK, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The winners will follow Brighton & Hove, Inverness and Wolverhampton which were made cities to mark the Millennium.

The Queen has laid down a number of factors as rules in the contest. Regional or national significance, historical features and a forward-looking attitude.

Wrexham faces competition from Newport, though the hope is that the Queen will award the title to a North Wales entrant - enhancing Wrexham's hopes.

In England there will be intensive competition for city status. Warrington believes it has earned the right to be deemed a city because of its phenomenal growth in the past few decades. Wirral has already decided to consult local people on what it means.

Other northern towns likely to seek the title include Stockton, Preston and Bolton.

Warrington has seen its importance grow as a centre of commerce and industry, particularly after its designation as a new town.

However it is sandwiched between the two great North West cities of Liverpool and Manchester.

Liverpool is regarded as the hub of Merseyside, surrounded by its four cousins, Wirral, Sefton, St Helens and Knowsley.

Not only does Manchester see itself as the hub of another major conurbation at the other end of the East Lancashire Road, it is also considered as the unofficial capital of the North West.

There is no doubt that size and status does matter.

Cities are much more than cathedral towns, they are generally major centres of wealth and population.

There are more than 60 cities in the UK - many of them renowned as major centres of commerce. Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds sit alongside Liverpool as the major core cities of England.

The closing date for entries to this contest is October 12, but so far no date has been announced for the winning entries to be revealed.

Warrington Unitary (self-rule) authority in 1998. Before that part of Cheshire in a two-tier administration. Was a county borough in Lancashire until 1974.

Pop 190,000. Size of council: 60 members. Labour controlled. Main industry: manufacturing.

WARRINGTON Chamber of Commerce and the Borough Council have joined forces to press the case for city status for a town that in 1993 hit the world headlines as a result of an IRA outrage that cost the lives of two boys. …

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City Mission the Talk of the Towns; Big Dreams of Prosperity and Inward Investment Lie Behind the Race to Become One of Britain's Newest Cities. Do the North-West Contenders of Warrington, Wirral and Wrexham Stand a Chance? Reports by Larry Neild, Daniel Clein and David Jones
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