Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph awarded city status


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The Independent Online

Three towns from three corners of the UK were celebrating today after being awarded city status to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Chelmsford in Essex, Perth in central Scotland and St Asaph in North Wales were given the honour while Armagh in Northern Ireland was granted a Lord Mayoralty.

The awards have been made by the Queen on the advice of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, following a competition to bid for civic honours launched in December 2010.

They beat 23 other towns including Reading, Middlesbrough and Blackpool, which had also entered the Civic Honours Competition, and 11 other existing cities which had applied for the additional award of a Lord Mayoralty.

Mr Clegg said the decision to award a new city in England, Scotland and Wales, and a Lord Mayoralty in Northern Ireland, reflected the significance of every part of the UK in the marking of the 60th year of the Queen's reign.

"Across the United Kingdom, I have been moved by the pride and passion which people have shown in putting their nominations forward," he said.

"The standard of application was very high, and those who missed out should not be downhearted.

"I hope the competition has given the residents of all of the places which applied a sense of civic pride, of collective ownership and of community spirit."

Chelmsford Borough Council said it was "delighted" by today's honour.

It said in a statement: "This is very welcome news for Chelmsford and everybody who lives and works within the city.

"We are delighted that Chelmsford has been honoured in this most important of years and also that Essex has at last been recognised as the vibrant and successful county that it has become.

"We recognise the strengths of the other candidates that were in the running for this honour, which makes Chelmsford's victory even more prestigious.

"Obviously the other towns in the competition will be disappointed; two were in Essex and I'm sure they will try again, but on behalf of everyone in Chelmsford we would like to thank Her Majesty for this great honour in her Diamond Jubilee year."

Perth & Kinross Council said the decision to restore Perth's city status and make it Scotland's seventh city, reflected the fact that it is "at the forefront of Scottish life".

Dr John Hulbert, Provost of the local authority, said: "I am delighted that official city status has been restored to Perth. Everyone in the council shares my excitement at the prospect of a glorious new chapter in Perth's long history."

City status is entirely ceremonial and is granted by the monarch on the advice of Ministers.

Competitions have been used to grant it on other recent occasions such as the Queen's Golden Jubilee and the Millennium, with the local authority of an area or town needing to nominate itself to compete.

Unlike often thought, they do not need to have a cathedral to qualify.