Express & Star

City status: It's a signal of ambition, says council leader

Becoming a city would open up all sorts of investment and job opportunities for Dudley, a council boss has said.

Dudley's town crier Ian Jones announcing the bid for city status

Gaining city status has helped transform the fortunes of Wolverhampton over the last two decades and city council leader Ian Brookfield said the title of 'city' is key in opening up funding opportunities.

Wolverhampton became a millennium city in 2000 and parts of it have undergone significant regeneration in the years since.

Dudley is now hoping to follow in the footsteps of its near neighbour by being granted the same honour as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations next year.

Councillor Brookfield said: "I wish Dudley all the best with its bid.

"Wolverhampton is one of the top 20 cities in the country and it gives us recognition not just in this country but internationally. It matters to people like developers and foreign funds coming in.

"It also gives a signal to everybody within the boundaries that you are looking to go forward. Once you have got city status you are allowed to bid for funds that other towns and parishes aren't allowed to. It's ambition."

Councillor Brookfield said it was important to "take everyone with you" on the journey towards city status as some Dudley residents may be concerned about the prospect of change. Dudley previously missed out on city status in 2012.

He said: "Some people complain, quite rightly, about the ties with history, coming from a town and going for city status.

"And I should imagine it doesn't come for free, so my advice is to take as many people in the area with you.

"It is ambition for the place."

How the application will be considered

Dudley is among a host of towns across the UK hoping to become a city next year.

Towns have been invited to bid for city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations next year, with as many applications being welcomed as possible.

A limit on successful areas has not been set and ministers say decisions will be made based on the strengths of the applications.

Other hopefuls include Reading, Swindon and Milton Keynes, which is hoping to make it fourth time lucky after missing out in 2000, 2002 and 2012.

Dudley missed out in 2012 after applying to be named a city for the Diamond Jubilee. Wolverhampton became a millennium city in 2000.

Traditionally, a location needs to have a population of 300,000 in order to be considered for city status. The Dudley borough, including other towns such as Stourbridge and Halesowen, meets this criteria.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “It’s a great opportunity for towns and cities in every corner of the country to showcase their heritage and tell us more about the people and places that make their local area so unique – and a fitting tribute to Her Majesty’s reign in her Platinum Jubilee year.”

Constitution and devolution minister Chloe Smith added: “The Civic Honours competition is an opportunity to promote your home town and win an honour for it that will last for all time.

“I encourage entries from local authorities in every part of the UK, from vibrant towns and cities with distinct identities, history, and sense of community.”