Dumfries Diamond Jubilee city status attempt defended

Dumfries Picture by Richard Dorrell Mr Jardine said there would be no better way to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee than by making a city of the town known as the Queen of the South

The man behind a city bid for Dumfries that was ruled invalid has said it was made with the "best of intentions".

Mark Jardine, of community group the People's Project, said it had been his "naive hope" the application would not fall down on a "mere technicality".

The town was named on Thursday on the Cabinet Office list of 26 bids for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee honour.

However, once it emerged it had not been submitted by the council it was ruled out of the competition.

Analysis

Dumfries Picture by Richard Dorrell

Rabbie Burns, a one-time resident of Dumfries, knew a thing or two about how the best laid schemes could go wrong.

One can only wonder what he would have made of its failed city status bid.

The local council was stunned this week to hear the town named on a list of applicants - since any such effort needed their endorsement, which had not been given.

The bid was promptly ruled invalid but the people behind it insist it was done to give the town's profile a boost.

Perhaps, if not quite in the manner intended, they have achieved that goal.

One of the criteria for bids is that they must come from the local authority covering the town concerned.

Dumfries and Galloway Council said it had met with the People's Project and DG Life Magazine for talks before the 27 May deadline and advised them not to submit the application.

It was not until it started receiving media inquiries that it realised the group had gone ahead and made the bid anyway.

The council advised the Cabinet Office, which is overseeing the competition, of the situation and the Dumfries application was then ruled out.

Mr Jardine said he was willing to "put his hand up and shoulder all responsibility for making such an audacious bid".

"I would like to clarify the situation and absolve the council of any blame, should anyone attempt to infer that," he said.

He insisted the application had been made with the "very best intentions for every person in Dumfries and Galloway".

He added that it was an attempt "to bring inward investment into this often forgotten part of the world".

Mr Jardine said he had approached the council, along with DG Life magazine, to offer to prepare a document for submission to the competition and meet any associated costs.

He said they had put a lot of work into the document and were "heartbroken" when they found it had to be endorsed by the local authority, which was unable to do so.

It was then that they decided to submit the bid independently.

Mr Jardine added that the application had been made "in good faith" and clearly indicated it came from the People's Project.

"There was certainly no possibility of anyone mistaking the identity of the sender," he said.

He said he was disappointed that the bid had now been ruled out on a "mere technicality".

'Realise the potential'

"Deluded, some may say, and they are entitled to their opinion - but does that make the other 25 towns applying for city status deluded too?" he asked.

"I think not, they all realise the potential to be made from achieving city status."

He added that he still believed there was no better way to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee than give city status to a town known as the Queen of the South.

The elimination of the Dumfries bid leaves Perth as the only Scottish applicant in the process.

If successful it would join Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling in enjoying city status.

The winner of the Diamond Jubilee competition is expected to be announced early in 2012.

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