Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Flattering To Deceive?

#rdgpol - Regular readers will know Reading List has been closely following the debate surrounding Reading's bid for city status.

And it appears developments to promote the move have now reached the highest levels when Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented during a pre-election visit that Reading 'deserved' the title after he was challenged on his initial description of the town as a 'great city'.

Rachel Eden overlooks this gaffe by her party leader highlighting his manner of justification that Reading has a 'great community spirit'.

Meanwhile local business groups have been going out of their way to promote the bid on the grounds that they think it will give a much-needed economic boost to the area, despite previously promoting a separate report showing Reading and the Thames Valley are relatively much better off than other areas of the country.

Paul Robins picks up on a report describing Reading as one of Euope's top 'micro-cities'.

Executive director of economic development company Reading UK CIC, Tim Smith, described the placement above over 200 urban centres with more than 1/4m population as an 'independent accolade' to be proud of, identifying the strength of local communications infrastructure as the major factor behind the judgement.

He was supported by the chairwoman of Reading's Federation of Small Businesses, Nicky Goringe Larkin, and deputy leader of Reading Council, Cllr Tony Page, who attributed Reading's beneficial geographical location as their main grounds for gaining for city status.

Linda Fort outlined the raging political debate on the issue.

Conservatives have offered unconditional support to the Labour colleagues, arguing 'this is about leadership."

But LibDems have been more cautious, suggesting that residents are unconvinced of the value it offers and practical policies need to be prioritised at this time.

And this appears to be an opinion borne out by local commenters - one says a successful bid will be worth no more than two seconds of air-time on national news, a second argues local political leadership needs to lose their 'village mentality' before the title is deserved and another states civic pride shouldn't depend upon outside recognition.

Elsewhere the significant question of whether the title would in any case be awarded to the borough authority or the conurbation was sidestepped when council leader Cllr Jo Lovelock assertively claimed, "it’s not about our boundaries," adding "it’s very much about recognising... we are the historic county town of Berkshire."

Oranjepan says:
From out of the mouths of politicians themselves!


Update: Steve Borthwick says 'Reading has hit the big time' now that Prime Minister Gordon Brown recognised the bid and given it his personal endorsement.

Steve says he thinks it is a great idea even though the only 'extra stuff' deliverable will be an increase in outside recognition and prestige which won't make any difference to the ordinary 'citizen'.


More stories about Reading's civic status

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