Should Blackpool become a new city-by-the-sea?

Should Blackpool become a city?
Should Blackpool become a city?
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Many people mistakenly think Blackpool is a city.

For example, when then Mayor Coun Peter Callow took part in a trailer for Top Gear which filmed in the resort in 2016, the producer asked him to welcome people “to the greatest city on earth”.

Maxine Callow

Maxine Callow

And the phrase ‘city-by-the-sea’ does have something of a ring to it.

However southern rival Southend could beat Blackpool to the title if it successfully makes a third bid for city status (and of course Sussex resort Brighton is already a city).

Former tourism chief Coun Maxine Callow believes Blackpool should also be putting its name in the hat to be made a city – not just for the prestige, but also potential investment.

She helped put a bid together in 2011, but it was scrapped when the Tories lost control of the town to Labour.

Coun Callow, who was cabinet member for tourism and regeneration in the Conservative-run administration, said: “We put a bid together when we were in power and all it cost us was officer time.

“But we lost the election and Labour scrapped it.

“I still believe if Blackpool became a city, it would have more status and it opens the door for more grants and potential investment.

“It also suggests you have more to offer.

“Southend is nice, but it’s not Blackpool.

“I would find it hard to think it might get city status and not Blackpool when we are the country’s premier resort.”

Blackpool had hoped to bid as part of a competition for one local authority to be given city status to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The issue came to the fore again earlier this month when Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, called for Prime Minister Theresa May to recognise the town as the first post-Brexit city.

In a light-hearted exchange during a debate in Parliament, Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard told the House he was “sympathetic towards city status for Southend, but on one condition: if I support Southend’s bid, he has to support Blackpool’s.”

Sir David replied there was no reason both resorts could not get city status.

But Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said the town was already “world famous” whether it was a town or a city.

He said: “We scrapped the bid for city status, as nobody could explain to us what the perceived benefits of city status were supposed to be.

“A costly and time consuming bidding process is required, for no tangible benefit, especially for a world famous resort town such as ours, with iconic buildings and attractions, which is recognised the world over.

“The sole argument in favour appeared to be ‘it’ll put us on the map’, but not only are we on the map already, we dominate it!”

Preston is currently seeing millions of pounds worth of investment after securing a City Deal with the government in 2013.

The initiative is expected to help grow the area’s economy by £1bn over a 10-year period.

A total £434m new investment will lead to the expansion and improvement of the transport infrastructure in Preston and South Ribble, enabling a forecast 20,000 new jobs and 17,420 new homes to be created.

Blackpool is also currently getting government financial support including investment in the tramway and a new conference centre.

Designation

City status is granted by a monarch and there are currently 51 cities in England.

Neighbouring Preston became England’s 50th city in 2002 after a successful bid which cost around £30,000.

Being designated as a city does not bring any particular special rights.

Eleven cities have been created since 2000 to celebrate the new millennium and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 and Diamond Jubilee in 2012.