Reading’s drive to be awarded the City Status it deserves took a key step forward on Friday May 27 when its bid was hand-delivered to Government.
Supporters joined political leaders outside Reading Station to wave off the town’s bid, before it was transported by train to Cabinet Office in Central London, where it was formally submitted. Her Majesty The Queen has chosen 2012 and the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee to bestow the honour of City Status to a UK town.
While already a thriving city all but in name, Reading’s determination to be able to officially call itself a city would bring significant benefits including increased economic investment, more jobs, a major boost to tourism and it would make the town an even more attractive host for major sporting or cultural events.
With the Olympic Torch recently confirmed as coming to Reading on July 10, a successful City Status bid would make 2012 a real year to remember for Reading.
The City Status bid outlines in detail exactly why Reading is ‘a city in waiting’. Here are a few….
• Reading is the largest town in the south-east, with an urban population of 213,000. It is the major urban area of the Thames Valley with a catchment of 1.7 million people and 800,000 people living within a 25 minute drive.
• It’s strong links to Royalty past and present date back to the 7th century AD and include the last resting place of King Henry I, and the birthplace of a future Queen, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
• It has already this year been identified by the influential Centre for Cities as a ‘city to watch’ and one of six ‘cities’ in the UK ‘best placed to lead the UK’s recovery…’
• Some of the world’s most famous companies have chosen to set up home here - Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, BG Group, ING, Verizon Business and Symantec to name just a few.
• Reading is the social and cultural hub of the region with unrivalled transport links by road, rail and air. Its rich past, vibrant present and exciting future means Reading has everything that’s needed to be a city.
The bid process for 2012 City Status bids differs considerably from previous years. Guidelines issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government mean that local authorities need to keep bid costs low and all follow the same criteria. In Reading a community group was set up which includes community representatives, residents and local newspaper editors. The group - under the stewardship of Reading UK CIC - have therefore spent the last year preparing the paper bid.
While taken forward by Reading Borough Council, the bid has the support of a wide variety of community and business representatives, as well as political leaders in the town. Once bids are submitted, the Government will spent the next year looking at them in detail before coming to a final decision in Spring 2012.