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UK's newest cities given an 'amazing opportunity' – University of Reading

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UK's newest cities given an 'amazing opportunity'

Release Date 14 March 2012

Dr Steve Musson discusses the impact of being awarded City Status

Download the interview with Dr Steve Musson (right-click to save)

The three new UK cities announced today will have an amazing opportunity' to capitalise on their new status, according to a Reading academic.

Dr Steve Musson, Lecturer in Political and Economic Geography at the University of Reading and an expert in City Status, said the three new cities - Chelmsford, Perth, and St Asaph - had been rewarded for their historical status.

Dr Musson said: "Today's news could be a catalyst for bigger things in the future. This status is permanent and the connection between Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph and the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 will be remembered long into the future. While becoming a city doesn't guarantee economic success, the buzz that today's announcement has created is an amazing opportunity.

"Although Reading was the bookmakers' favourite, history shows that winners in recent competitions have usually been more surprising - though no less deserving. Perth has regained the status it lost in 1975, while Chelmsford has been a leading contender over the last 10 years. St Asaph is a more of a surprise because nearby Wrexham was a strongly favoured Welsh contender."

Cities are created to mark notable events in UK national history. To become a city, places must demonstrate their historical importance, their role as a centre of government and culture, and their economic strength. Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph take the number of UK cities to 69. Eight other cities have been created since the Millennium.

"Becoming a city is all about local pride and the buzz created in communities," Dr Musson said. "The evidence linking city status to economic success is mixed. For every place that experiences growth after becoming a city, there are others that don't see direct economic benefits. Although no new powers or funding is directly associated with becoming a city, winners often hope it can be a catalyst for regeneration and future success."

Just because most bidders did not become a city in 2012, it doesn't mean that their bids were a failure or that they won't benefit from their involvement, he added.

"Getting involved in this competition has brought publicity to all of the places involved," Dr Musson said. "The process of putting a bid together, which involves getting local community groups, businesses and the media on board, creates new opportunities too. This is particularly valuable to some of the smaller towns involved in the competition. For many places, bidding for city status is often linked to bigger regeneration and promotion programmes that will continue in the future."


For more details, or interview requests, contact Pete Castle, University of Reading press officer on 0118 378 7391 or

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