Blackburn launches ambitious bid for city status
Blackburn has put forward a bid to be awarded city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
The town last made a bid for city status in 2002 but lost out to Preston, which became England's 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II' s reign.
The Queen is due to confer city status on one or more towns next year to mark her 70 years on the throne, and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council said it was "a fantastic opportunity" for the town to become Lancashire's third city (along with Preston and Lancaster).
And the council believes it has built a compelling case for the Queen's consideration, with the final decision to be made by Her Majesty on advice from ministers.
Deputy council leader Quesir Mahmood, who is leading the bid, said: "We are thinking big for Blackburn. It gives you that recognition, that sense of pride, and I firmly believe there will be greater benefits in the long-term.
"We've got significant changes in terms of the development of the town centre, some of our cultural diversity and how we've gelled together putting us right in the mix.
"We've got a compelling story to tell of our heritage, our history and traditions, our links to past and present royalty.
"Just this year King George's Hall celebrated 100 years so we've got a fantastic story and we want to put a fantastic bid together to give it the best shot."
Jack Straw, who was the town's MP during the previous bid, said: "Crucially, cities go to towns that have cathedrals. Blackburn's got a cathedral and we've certainly got the size to be a city.
"The town has been transformed in the last 15 or 20 years. What was the boulevard was a windswept, vacant, depressing bus station and you've now got Cathedral Square there.
"I think the case for Blackburn becoming a city is overwhelming and I just hope others take the same view."
Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, added: "Securing City Status would be good news for residents of the town of course and for the whole county of Lancashire.
"Being bestowed this honour by Her Majesty The Queen would also reflect the rich heritage of the town in relation to worship and community cohesion; as well as its rich cultural and industrial heritage."
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