Diamond Jubilee: Chelmsford to become city

The champagne has been flowing in England's newest city

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Chelmsford has been awarded city status as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Chelmsford's MP Simon Burns said he was delighted the town would become the first city in Essex.

The leader of the Conservative-run council, Roy Whitehead, said it was a tremendous honour for the town.

"The 'city of Chelmsford' sounds a lot better than the 'town of Chelmsford', so if we're going to get investment we'll be better off as a city," he said.

"It is a tremendous honour for the town and will bring considerable joy to the local community.

"I would like to congratulate everyone at Chelmsford Borough Council and elsewhere who worked so hard and put such a compelling bid together, which has led to this honour for our community."

Chelmsford's Mayor Robert Shepherd said: "This is very welcome news for Chelmsford and everybody who lives and works within the city.

"We are delighted that Chelmsford has been honoured in this most important of years and also that Essex has at last been recognised as the vibrant and successful county that it has become.

"On behalf of everyone in Chelmsford we would like to thank Her Majesty for this great honour in her Diamond Jubilee year."

CHELMSFORD FACTS

  • The Norman town of Chelmsford was founded in 1199
  • Marconi established the first wireless factory in the town's Hall Street in 1899
  • It is the joint home to the V Festival, along with Staffordshire
  • In 2011 Chelmsford Cathedral became Grade I listed
  • The town has a population of nearly 160,000

Chelmsford Borough Council leader Roy Whitehead said: "I particularly wish to pay tribute to the council officers who put together our bid.

"The whole process was produced by highly-talented young people at minimal cost - in these times of austerity it would have been wrong to spend large sums of public money."

'In public eye'

David Burch, policy manager at Essex Chambers of Commerce, said they were "absolutely delighted".

"It puts Chelmsford and Essex on the map," he said.

"It reinforces the message that Chelmsford and Essex are good for business.

"It will bring Chelmsford more into the public eye and help attract inward investment."

He said he thought the town had won because it was "already very vibrant place attracting a lot of businesses".

Chelmsford City Football Club chairman, Mansell Wallace, also welcomed the city news.

He added: "I don't know what all the fuss is about... we've been a city since 1938, haven't we?

"It was always a bone of contention in opposition board rooms why we were called Chelmsford City and we had no real right of reply, now we have. We're proud to represent Chelmsford and congratulate Chelmsford Borough Council on their successful bid."

The club was given its name during its formation in The Fleece public house in Duke Street 74 years ago, when the founders stepped outside the front door to be greeted by the cathedral.

They named the club Chelmsford City under a misapprehension that the county town was a city.

Chelmsford College principal David Law said: "It is tremendous news for Chelmsford. It will turn peoples' attention and focus on the place and change peoples' perceptions of Chelmsford. It's very positive. I'm tremendously excited."

The Cabinet Office would not say how it reached its decision about how to award City Status.

But in 2010, when it launched the competition, it said that among the things it would consider would be the history of a town, its vibrancy, identity and community.

A spokesman said a team of officials assessed the various bids but the final recommendation to the Queen was made by the deputy prime minister.

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