'Don't ask, don't get' - Town council says no to Lowestoft city status bid

lowestoft high street

Should Lowestoft apply for city status? - Credit: Nick Butcher

A town council has turned down the opportunity to bid for city status, sparking calls for it to think again.

Lowestoft Town Council rejected a proposal put forward for the town to apply for city status meeting on Tuesday, June 22.

According to deputy mayor, Nasima Begum, the proposal was put forward on the town council agenda by local Labour member in Lowestoft, Christian Newsom.

lowestoft high street

Lowestoft could have the opportunity to become a city as part of Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. - Credit: Jasper King

As part of the upcoming platinum jubilee civic honours competition, The Queen has agreed that competitions may be held for a grant of city status and Lord Mayor or Provost status to mark Her Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

There are no prerequisites for entering and entry is free.

lowestoft high street

Most Lowestoft Town councillors rejected the application for city status. - Credit: Nick Butcher

But during the full council meeting, ten councillors voted against, two abstained and four voted for it.

Ms Begum voted for the move and said she was eager to hear the public's opinion on the town applying for city status.

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She said: "I don't see why we wouldn't.

"There are no requirements. It is a simple form and I don't see it taking a long time.

"I would suggest we do a consultation with the public to ask people what they think.

"Lowestoft is often overlooked and here we have the opportunity to potentially create Suffolk's first city."

alice taylor

Alice Taylor voted for the city bid. - Credit: Lowestoft Town Council

Alice Taylor voted for the bid, believing it could make the town a bigger draw for tourists.

She said: "If you don't ask, you don't get.

"I will always vote to build up Lowestoft and this could bring about more investment and tourism to the town.

"We need to listen to the residents' thoughts on this as well - it needs to be a resident driven approach."

Fellow councillor, Andy Pearce, highlighted that this would be something for the town to consider at a future date when there is more backing from the district, county council and MP.

He said: "Apparently this honour is only given on civic or royal occasions so is only given every few years.

"I am not against it in principle, I just wonder whether at this stage of the regeneration whether it is something Lowestoft would want to consider or whether it is the right time, but I have no strong opinion either way.

"For this to work in the long-term we would need backing from the district council, county council and Peter Aldous.

"That support could be garnered in the near future for a potential bid."

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Keith Patience had concerns that other towns are in line for the bid. - Credit: Suffolk County Council

But some councillors, including Keith Patience, were not optimistic, pointing to the fact that Ipswich, a much larger town than Lowestoft, has been trying for 30 years.

Ipswich bid before in 1992 when Sunderland became a city, in 2000 when Brighton & Hove and Wolverhampton was honoured and in the Queen's Golden Jubilee 2002 when Preston became a city, but has so far been unsuccessful.

He said: "Ipswich have been trying for many years to get city status and I think this is a pointless exercise with other towns ahead of us in the queue.

"I don't think Lowestoft is large enough."

lowestoft high street

What would city status mean for Lowestoft further down the line? - Credit: Nick Butcher

What being a city would mean for Lowestoft

A city status in the UK is usually associated with having a university, cathedral or large population.

However, in the platinum jubilee civic honours competition for 2022 there is no specification for having any prerequisites for entry.

But some councillors from the town council may be correct in arguing larger towns with new universities and larger populations could be favoured in the 2022 bid.

If Lowestoft was to win city status it could mean a few name changes, notably Lowestoft City Football Club and Lowestoft City Council.

Overall, being awarded city status is more symbolic over anything else, and would instead perhaps encourage greater tourism numbers and business investment in the town as a result.

Many cities across the UK are small like Ely, Wells and Salisbury but were awarded city status many years ago.

Now, having a cathedral is not necessary for a bid so now or in the near future could be Lowestoft's chance.