Perth MP calls for ‘Jubilee City’ competition to be extended

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
A Scottish MP has called on the UK Government to extend a competition that will see one new city created in recognition of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
 
Perth MP Pete Wishart has written a letter to the UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt asking for the competition to be amended in order to create one new city in each of the UK’s four constituent areas.

Under current proposals only one city will be created from the 26 towns which have applied, with a decision expected early in the New Year.

Speaking at the time of the competition announcement, Mr Hunt said: “Marking Her Majesty’s 60 years on the throne in 2012 will be a great opportunity for the nation to come together in celebration, just as it did for her Silver and Golden Jubilees,”

In a letter to the Culture Secretary, Mr Wishart said it was not too late for the competition to be extended and allow the creation of a new city in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as happened during the Golden Jubilee competitions, or create multiple cities as happened in the millennium competition.

Mr Wishart’s proposal follows Perth’s bid for city status which was completed in May 2011 and was personally delivered to the UK Cabinet Office in London by Mr Wishart and Perth and Kinross Provost Dr John Hulbert.

The 50-page application detailed the city’s claim for the restoration of city status and included messages of support from a large number of some of Scotland’s most prominent leaders, including the First Minister Alex Salmond.
 
Commenting, Mr Wishart said:

“Creating new cities is a great way to mark Her Majesty’s 60 years on the throne and it should be an opportunity that benefits each of the nations across the UK.  There is no reason why this competition should not be extended and it is certainly not too late.

“It is disappointing that the UK Government’s is only offering city status to one candidate from across all of the UK. It would have been far better to initiate separate competitions in each of the nations – as in the Golden Jubilee competitions or multiple cities from across the UK as happened in the millennium competition.”

Civic honours were last awarded in 2002, to mark the Golden Jubilee, when Preston, Stirling, Newport, Lisburn and Newry were awarded city status. 

Perth’s claim is based on its history as Scotland’s first capital and latterly as the official second city of Scotland and the application emphasises its strengths as a growing regional centre within Scotland.

Mr Wishart argued that Perth’s history as a mediaeval capital, where the kings of Scotland lived and were crowned, meant that the city’s claim was “unanswerable”.  The SNP MP also highlighted the city’s present day prominence at the centre of one of Scotland’s fastest growing, and most successful local authorities.

Mr Wishart added:

“Our bid is backed by the local community, the First Minister of Scotland and all opposition leaders in the Scottish Parliament. It is Scotland’s bid and I know that Perth will be a worthy addition to Scotland’s official cities.
 
“Even at this late stage, it is not too late for the UK Government to deliver a fairer, truly inclusive competition that matches the ambitions of candidate towns across the UK.

“The Westminster Government should recognise the distinct civic traditions from each of the nations, and at even this late stage seek to extend this competition to allow a winner from each of the nations across the UK.”