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Milton Keynes and Doncaster among eight new cities to mark Queen’s platinum jubilee

The Independent logo The Independent 20/05/2022 Emily Atkinson
SEI104649073.jpeg © Reuters SEI104649073.jpeg

A record-breaking eight places across the UK and beyond have been awarded city status to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

The new cities that triumphed in a competition to receive civic honours range from Colchester, Britain’s first recorded settlement, to Milton Keynes, a town formally established in 1967.

This year was the first occasion it was open to applications from the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories, with Stanley on the Falkland Islands and Douglas on the Isle of Man among the winners.

The remaining newly named cities are Doncaster in England, Dunfermline in Scotland, Wrexham in Wales and Bangor in Northern Ireland.

The new cities are among the areas in the UK that “make Britain great”, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said.

He continued: “What was clear to me during the process of assessing each application was the pride that people felt for their communities, local cultural heritage and the royal family.

“As we celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s colossal contribution to society, I am thrilled that we are able to recognise some of the many places that make Britain great.

“It is also incredibly reflective of Her Majesty’s global outlook and years of international service that applicants from the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have been selected as winners for the first time.”

According to the Cabinet Office, the areas boasting this year’s honours can expect a boost to local communities and a roster of new opportunities for people who live there.

Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, is the first Overseas Territory to win city status.

The Cabinet Office said its sustainable practices and civic pride were instrumental in sealing its victory.

The award comes at a particularly meaningful time for Stanley, falling on the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands war which has seen residents come together to remember the sacrifices made during the conflict.

Eight towns to be given city status as part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee honours
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The cultural hub of Douglas on the Crown Dependency of the Isle of Man has also claimed the honour.

The Royal Hall in Douglas is home to annual flagship concerts by the Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra, the Isle of Man Choral Society, and the Manx Last Night of the Proms. It also stages the annual Manx Music Festival and there is also an Isle of Man Film Festival plus events which celebrate Gaelic culture.

Doncaster’s success in receiving city status was derived from its community spirit and resilience after the floods in 2019 where locals rallied to provide relief.

It has more than 70 places of worship and its mosques and gurdwaras became pop-up vaccination centres during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was originally a Roman settlement and has an industrial heritage that is built on rail and coal.

Important locomotives including the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard were both built there.

Wrexham’s Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the region, which is a base for firms including JCB and Kellogg’s as well as aerospace giants such as Magellen and Cytec, is to become home to the new National Football Museum of Wales.

Wrexham Football Club, which was set up in 1864, has the world’s oldest international ground, and can now boast Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney as co-owners.

Dunfermline’s bid pointed out that its annual fireworks display attracts around 30,000 local people, while the Christmas light event packed the town centre with a 10,000 -strong crowd.

Dunfermline’s most famous son is Andrew Carnegie, whose role in expanding the steel industry helped build America. His philanthropy started the world’s public library system, and he gave away $350m – the equivalent of $5.5bn in today’s money.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack offered his “warmest congratulations” to Dunfermline, adding: “Being awarded city status can give places a real boost, from helping grow the local economy, to raising its profile, to instilling civic pride.

“For a place with such rich royal history, it is fitting that Dunfermline is becoming a city as we celebrate our longest-serving monarch’s platinum jubilee.

“Its lovely green spaces and fantastic cultural attractions will ensure that this new city thrives well into the future.”

Bangor, due to being set at the mouth of the Belfast Lough, became a key site for allied forces during the Second World War. In May 1944, the supreme commander of Allied forces, Dwight D Eisenhower, gave a speech to 30,000 assembled troops in Bangor, shortly before ships left for Normandy and D-Day.

Councillor Mark Brooks said the award for the Co Down town was “extra special” due to its association with the jubilee.

“I am delighted by the news of Bangor’s success in the city status competition,” said Mr Brooks, who is mayor of North Down and Ards Borough Council.

“It would be an honour for the town and people of Bangor to receive at any time but coming as part of Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee celebrations makes it extra special.”

He added: “I would like to put on record my thanks to all those who contributed to Bangor’s application, both in terms of their words of support but more importantly in terms of their practical and ongoing work in the local area.

“Bangor has been given a great boost today and I’m extremely proud of this new and significant accolade for our borough.”

Milton Keynes includes 27 conservation areas, 50 scheduled monuments, 1,100 listed buildings and 270 pieces of public art. It has 84,500 citizens who are volunteers and the town also claims to have a higher per head of population number of volunteers than any other UK city.

The Open University was also established there in 1969.

Colchester has been a garrison town for the past 165 years and for the past 21 years has been home to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK’s rapid response force.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries described city status as “a huge accolade”, adding: “This competition showcases the best of Britain and the Overseas Territories and will act as a lasting legacy of Her Majesty the Queen’s platinum jubilee.”

Perth, which was granted city status in 2012 as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee, has seen its local economy expand by 12 per cent in the decade after it secured its new title, the Cabinet Office said.

With additional reporting from PA

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