04:10PM, Wednesday 05 January 2022
Maidenhead figures including MP Theresa May have thrown their weight behind Reading’s bid for city status – arguing the move would benefit the Royal Borough.
The neighbouring Berkshire town is one of 39 places which have applied for city status to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Reading has on three previous occasions put itself forward for city status – in 2000, 2002 and 2012 – unsuccessfully.
City status is a mark of distinction granted by the Sovereign – but the exact criteria is not publicly divulged.
Population size, character, the presence of a cathedral, university or a historic or royal link are all taken into consideration. There are currently 51 cities in England.
At present, Berkshire does not have a city and Mrs May feels granting one is long overdue.
“As we are the Royal County it seems particularly appropriate that Reading should be granted city status in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year,” she said.
“Maidenhead would benefit from giving Reading city status as it would undoubtedly open new economic opportunities in the county.”
Councillor Andrew Johnson, the council leader, said the Royal Borough is ‘fully behind’ Reading’s bid for city status and agrees it would benefit the borough.
“City status would bring increased visibility and recognition which, in turn, would benefit Berkshire as a whole and the Royal Borough as a neighbour with close links,” he said.
“[It would] support the local economy and the potential for investment opportunities through employment, tourism and cultural events.”
Mike Miller, president of Maidenhead & District Chamber of Commerce, says the effect on Maidenhead would depend on what ‘becoming a city’ actually means.
“The idea that Reading will suddenly draw business from Maidenhead I don’t think is true – I think Maidenhead will make its own way,” he said.
“[But] Reading becoming a city can only be a good thing.
“It is the obvious choice for a city in Berkshire and should have become one some time ago.
“It will help the overall income for Berkshire and will radiate out [from Reading] to the Royal Borough.”