Oldest town set to put forward fourth city status bid

Colchester Castle is just one of the attractions taking part in the Essex Big Weekend. Picture: SU A

Colchester Castle - Credit: Su Anderson

Britain's oldest recorded town could become a city under plans backed by Colchester council leaders to bid for official status in time for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The borough council’s cabinet endorsed the bid at a meeting on Wednesday night, recommending it for final approval by the full council later this year.

Christine Stubbings is from Colchester. Picture: ARCHANT

It will be Colchester's fourth city status bid

Labour and backbench Conservatives criticised the cabinet for not properly gauging public support and risking Colchester’s identity as a town.

There is currently an open call for local authorities to submit bids for city status in time for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

The authority plans to use the capital of Roman Britain's 2,000 year history to its advantage.

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Portfolio holder for economy, business and heritage, Darius Laws said at the meeting: “Why should we sit in the shadow of Norwich city or Chelmsford city?

“Tourism could boom. We could be on the international tourist destination list.”

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Labour group leader, Adam Fox said he supported city status, but criticised the cabinet for only consulting with “key stakeholders”.

He told the meeting: “It suggests that it’s just the great and the good that will be asked to support a bid for city status and it shouldn’t just be that.”

In a statement following the meeting, he said: “A bid for city status will only be successful if it has broad public support.

“It is not clear that the Tory-run council have consulted widely enough and ensured people know why a bid is being considered and how Colchester will benefit.”

Conservative councillor for Lexden and Braiswick, Lewis Barber also criticised proposals, claiming they would not allow for greater flexibility in spending.

He said: “I don’t believe conferring city status to us would address any of the issues that my residents care about and that I feel challenge our borough.”

If approved by the full council, it will be the fourth time Colchester has attempted to obtain city status.

The last bid was in 2012, when neighbouring Chelmsford was successful instead.

Colchester occupies the site of Caledonium, the first major Roman city in Britain, and is home to the UK’s only known Roman Circus.

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