Northampton's city status: Councillors vote unanimously to back bid labelled 'once in a generation opportunity'

At West Northamptonshire Council’s full meeting, all councillors voted in favour of the bid

By Carly Odell
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 10:32 am
Updated Friday, 3rd December 2021, 10:35 am

A city status bid will be submitted for Northampton after councillors voted unanimously to back the campaign.

Councillors on West Northamptonshire Council gave their approval at a full council meeting on Thursday night (December 2).

The votes mean an application will be submitted by the deadline of Wednesday (December 8) as council leader, Councillor Jonathan Nunn, says the draft is ‘almost ready’.

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A bid to gain Northampton city status will be submitted next week.

Talking about the draft application, Councillor Nunn, said: “It’s a beautiful document that reflects well the history and heritage of the town, the community and to a significant extent, the independent spirit of Northampton.”

He also added that there had been ‘huge support from communities, businesses and all quarters’ on the bid and that the application had been put together at ‘no additional cost to the council’.

As part of the application process, council representatives interviewed residents about their thoughts and held frequently asked questions sessions with parish councils to ‘dispel city status myths’.

During a presentation at the full council meeting, representatives also highlighted the figure of Wolverhampton seeing £2 billion of investment in the 12 years since it won city status, as an indication as to the positives of becoming a city.

Deputy leader, Adam Brown, added: “Semantics and symbols do matter, which is precisely why it would mean so much.

“We have the big city lights, we’ve always had the big city history and it’s time we matched that with big city ambition.

“To host major events, to attract the best employers and to be a city where ambitious people want to live and prosper.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity, to show that Northampton and the wider region of West Northamptonshire aspire to be more than they were before.

“I would call on everyone to back the bid so that together as West Northamptonshire Council we can start to ensure that our big city lights burn brightly.”

The motion went to a vote at the meeting and all councillors present voted in favour of the bid, as cross-party support was recognised.

Councillor Emma Roberts, on behalf of Labour Group leader Councillor Gareth Eales, said: “If this bid is successful, it will enable us to raise our national profile and allow us to access enhanced funding streams that are only open to cities giving us more opportunity to regenerate and promote our heritage and culture.

“Residents are ready to step forward and grasp the opportunity to give ourselves a better future.

“Whilst we make clear we would have welcomed a bit more time to build bigger momentum with this campaign, we must now seize this moment.

“Some may believe that we are the underdog in this fight, but that I do not think is true.

“We are the largest town in the country with a proud history and vast potential.

“Even if we were classed as an underdog, everyone loves an underdog - don’t they?”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Talavera ward, Dennis Meredith, told the chamber how he was part of a team who worked on a city status bid 25 years ago.

He said: “We didn’t have a university then. Now we have a thriving university, one we can be very proud of.

“I don’t think Northampton is an underdog, it’s a wonderful opportunity to create economic development throughout our town.

“We have all the sports facilities, we have a royal theatre, we have the Derngate, we have everything in Northampton that you could wish to represent city status.

“I’m confident this time round we will get city status.”

Final amendments to application will now be made before the submission deadline.

Winners of the bid will then be announced next year. A date has not yet been set, but it will be before the Queen’s Jubilee in June.

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