Colchester: Britain’s oldest town bids for city status

A COMMUNITY group is hoping that Colchester’s Roman heritage will help Britain’s oldest town to become its newest city.

City status will be granted to one local authority area to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

Community group Destination Colchester has prepared the town’s bid which has to be submitted to the Government on Friday.

Vice-chairman Wendy Bailey said: “The two Roman soldiers are representative of the town’s heritage which is over 2,000 years old.

“Emperor Claudius made Colchester a city and it had that status for 400 years. This is an opportunity for us to regain that status.

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“A huge amount of hard work has gone into preparing this bid and it has all been done by volunteers.

“We have everything a modern city can offer in the way of entertainment, culture, history and heritage. Being a city would give us the advantages of raising our profile to attract businesses, visitors and entrepreneurs.”

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There are currently no cities in Essex, but Chelmsford and Southend have also announced that they will be entering the bid.

The government will announce the successful candidate early next year.

Bookmaker William Hill has made Reading the 9/1 favourite to win the city bid ahead of Guildford at 10/1. In Essex, Chelmsford leads the pack with odds of 16/1, Southend is at 18/1 and Colchester is 20/1.

Two Roman soldiers and a chariot arrived at the Balkerne Gate in Castle Park yesterday to represent Colchester’s heritage as a city and to mark the sending of the bid to the office of the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg later this week.

“Colchester’s bid for city status isn’t simply about recognition of its history or achievements,” said Mrs Bailey.

“While any town can have historic foundations, what marks out a city is the outlook of its people – an outlook that’s characterised by tolerance, openness to change and confidence in the future. Colcestrians have it already.”

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