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Monday, 18 December, 2000, 18:30 GMT
City winners named
Brighton Pavilion
Brighton has been named a Millennium city
Brighton and Hove, Wolverhampton and Inverness have won the right to call themselves cities.

The Home Office announcement has delighted the three towns for whom being made a city confers a greater status which could mean extra investment.

Brighton organiser Simon Fanshawe said: "Its brilliant. The potential for us is enormous.

"It will transform us from a receding town into a place on the move. We were really hit by the recession in the eighties. We didn't want that to happen ever again."

Inverness will hope city status brings a tourist boom

In Wolverhampton, the editor of the local paper, the Express & Star, which campaigned for city status, also expressed his delight.

Warren Wilson said: "We have known for a long time that this is a great place with a wonderful past and a vibrant future. This announcement confirms this to the rest of the nation."

City status for the Highlands town of Inverness comes in a week that the town will be the focus of world media attention with the marriage of Madonna and Guy Ritchie at Skibo Castle, only 45 minutes drive away.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish National Party's MSP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, said: "The benefits are intangible and will help promote Inverness as a commercial centre as well as an international tourist attraction."

It would have been nice, but I think in terms of morale it is GM that has done the worst damage

Luton MP Margaret Moran

It is bad news, however, for Luton which was the even money favourite but now loses out less than a week after Vauxhall announced it was closing its car factory with the loss of 2,000 jobs.

Local MP Margaret Moran said the loss of Vauxhall had put the city status result in perspective.

"With the situation with Vauxhall, most people are focused on getting General Motors to change their decision, and I don't think city status will be the main focus of people's attention.

"It would have been nice, but I think in terms of morale it is GM that has done the worst damage. The responsibility for the dark mood in this town lies fairly and squarely on their shoulders."

Wolverhampton's town crier
Wolverhampton's town crier Percy Simmonds proclaims the good news
The result is also likely to disappoint the six towns in Wales and two in Northern Ireland which applied for city status.

The Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is reported to be dismayed that none of the six Welsh towns was included.

However, the Home Office said city status will be granted to a town in Wales in 2002 to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

A total of 39 towns across the UK had waited for months for the outcome of a contest organised by the Home Office.

Towns put themselves forward after the Queen expressed her intention to mark the millennium and the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne by granting city status.

Only 14 city statuses were conferred during the 20th century, the most recent including Armagh in 1994 and Sunderland in 1992.

Applications closed in September last year and a decision was expected months ago.

Margaret Moran MP
Luton MP Margaret Moran; Losing Vauxhall is worse
There have been a number of hitches and delays, among them a leaked memo from the Home Office which appeared to mock some of the applications.

The successful applicants will receive no extra royal or governmental privileges but can realistically hope for an economic boost from the kudos of becoming a city.

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