City status bid fails but we’ll try again

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MILTON Keynes came up short in the bid to become the UK’s newest city.

Chelmsford, St Asaph and Perth were on the long-awaited list of towns granted city status, announced yesterday to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

“It’s disappointing,” said Councillor Andrew Geary, leader of the council.

“But the title is purely honorific and it doesn’t give us any more powers or funding.

“Everyone will still be going to the city centre to do their shopping and I don’t think people will be changing that. I think that if it looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, chances are it is a duck.”

Mr Geary added that this wasn’t the end of the road for Milton Keynes’ city ambitions, and that the council knew how to improve its bid for next time. He said: “We spent very little money on the bid because we were told that spending big doesn’t make any difference to the cause. The panel were impressed with the way Milton Keynes is developing and is encouraging businesses to the area.

“When the opportunity comes up again, we will be putting a bid in again.”

The Mayor, Councillor Alan Richards, echoed Mr Geary’s thoughts and passed on his congratulations to the new cities.

“We have to congratulate Chelmsford, St Asaph and Perth, but it is disappointing for the people of Milton Keynes who felt the bid was outstanding.

“Milton Keynes is a growing city and it won’t be too long before we get the recognition we deserve – that it is a great place to work, rest and play.”

Councillor Sam Crooks, who led the city status bid, said that the whole bid was good value for money, coming in at just £116.

“It’s obviously very disappointing because we had a very strong bid and it was good value for money.

“The most important thing now is for us to keep moving forward and to make sure that next time the city status applications come around, the people look at Milton Keynes as the best possible candidate.”

But Pete Winkelman, chairman of MK Dons, does not believe failure to achieve formal city status should be too much cause for concern.

“We are still the new city of Milton Keynes,” he said. “The council was right to go for official status but I’m not going to lose much sleep over it, though I think it is a bit of a surprise.

“Chelmsford was one of the outsiders, but we know what that’s like and I’m sure the decision won’t have too much of an effect.”