Colchester: Going to town over bid for city status

COLCHESTER councillors have thrown their weight behind an ambitious bid to win city status for the town.

The former Roman capital is among more than a dozen towns nationally that want to become cities to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year.

Momentum for the pitch leapt forward last week when Colchester Borough Council backed the idea, paving the way for a bid document to be drawn up.

Destination Colchester, the group behind the bid, said becoming a city would attract investment and give the economy a boost.

“If we were a city, we would instantly raise the profile of Colchester,” said Wendy Bailey, chairman of Destination Colchester, a community interest company set up to promote and improve the town.

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“People think we’re a sleepy old town but we’re the fastest growing area in the UK. There is fear from the villages about losing their identity and being swallowed up in the city.

“I’d like to reassure the villages and their beautiful countryside that they will be totally protected. It will not be revolution, it will be evolution.

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“We’re delighted the council has agreed that Colchester can now go forward and apply for city status.

“This is a community-led bid and we will be working with businesses and other organisations to produce a first-class bid to become a city”

Destination Colchester said because the bid could draw on volunteers and businesses for support, there would be no cost to the taxpayer.

“Most people outside of Colchester think we are a city anyway,” said Bob Russell, Colchester’s Liberal Democrat MP. “It will have no effect on the urban structure but it raises the profile of Colchester across the UK. I’d say Colchester’s chances of becoming a city are greater than Colchester United’s of winning the FA Cup.

“Nobody says Colchester should not enter the FA Cup because they’re not going to win. A good cup run benefits the football club.

“Frankly, for Colchester to not apply for city status would be an admission that we do not rate ourselves highly on the national stage.”

The bid will be scrutinised by borough council bosses prior to it being submitted to Government by Friday, May 27.

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