Monday 29 May 2017

Small town applies for city status

The Eden Project is one of the attractions near St Austell, which is applying to be a city
The Eden Project is one of the attractions near St Austell, which is applying to be a city

A Cornish town with a population of 22,000 is to apply for city status to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

St Austell has entered the Civic Honours Competition, which will create a new city in 2012 to mark the 60th year of the Queen's reign.

The small town faces competition from larger urban areas across the country, including Reading, Middlesbrough and Blackpool.

It has put together a "green bid" to capitalise on what it believes are its strong environmental credentials, including its proximity to the Eden Project, under the slogan: "St Austell Bay: A new city for a new world".

The town's mayor, Jill Trewhella, admitted its chances of success were slim but felt that it was a good opportunity to put the town on the map.

"We know we cannot compete in terms of historic buildings, population size or employment," she said. "But there is nothing wrong with being small. There is a slim chance of victory and I appreciate how slim that chance is, but it is there."

St Austell is Cornwall's largest town and is at the heart of the county's china clay mining industry, which supplies the paper-making industry amongst others. It has left its mark on the area, with huge off-white spoil heaps giving the area its nickname of "The Cornish Alps".

But it has undergone large-scale public sector-backed redevelopment in recent years, with the £75 million White River Place shopping centre opening in 2009 and it is also due to swell through the creation of one of the "eco towns" created by the last Labour Government. It is also close to the Eden Project environmental tourist attraction.

The competition was launched in December last year and the results will be announced in 2012. Other towns to announce plans to enter include Reading, which has a population of 232,000, Middlesbrough (139,000), Blackpool (146,000) and Wrexham (42,576).

But Ms Trewhella said none of the guidelines outlined when the scheme was launched last December stipulated a population size.

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