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Tuesday, 7 March, 2000, 20:47 GMT
Millennium city leak angers bookies
Brighton pavillion
Brighton Pavilion: Soon to be a city landmark?
Bets have been suspended on which towns are to receive city status to mark the millennium after a leaked Home Office document narrowed the field to just two candidates.

The document revealed only Brighton and Hove and Wolverhampton were still in the running.


It's time the Home Office made the announcement. It's not a State secret.

Bookie Graham Sharpe
The news has angered bookies who have suspended all betting on the outcome.

Bookmaker William Hill had Luton as an even bet to gain the honour and Brighton second at 4-1.

Wolverhampton was a rank outsider at 33-1.

Spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "We have been forced to close our book until we can verify whether this information is accurate.

"We have been betting on the race for city status for months now without being able to discover just when an announcement will be made.

"It's time the Home Office made the announcement. It's not a State secret."

Home Office officials have refused to comment on the leak.

"I couldn't tell you if the announcement will be in one month or three," spokesman Paul Matthews said.

There are 27 towns bidding for city status in England, including Blackpool, Guildford, Ipswich, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Reading, Swindon and Wolverhampton.

Ballymena and Lisburn are Northern Ireland's candidates for the honour while in Wales there are six towns in the race, including Aberystwyth, Newport and Wrexham.

In Scotland, Ayr, Inverness, Paisley and Stirling are also in the running.
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