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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 13:31 GMT
'Proud Preston' wins city status
The Harris Museum in Preston
City assessors looked at the history of the candidates
Historic Preston in Lancashire has won the coveted prize of Golden City status, beating off a challenge from 26 other English contenders.

The town, which calls itself "Proud Preston", won the contest, drawn up as part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee year to celebrate her 50 years on the throne.

It becomes the first new English city since Brighton and Hove and Wolverhampton were given the status to mark the new millennium two years ago.

Preston based its bid on its history, location, university and the fact that it is the traditional administrative centre of Lancashire.

'Vibrant community'

Other jubilee cities named are Stirling in Scotland, Newport in Wales and Lisburn and Newry in Northern Ireland.

The Preston challenge team had said that becoming England's newest city would raise its national and international profile.

Welcoming the news, Councillor Alan Hackett, mayor of Preston, said: "We're absolutely delighted. This is a wonderful achievement and richly deserved.

"This is a real boost for the whole area as it really puts Preston on the international map and will help to attract further investment and jobs."

Brucciani's has been serving coffee for decades
Brucciani's coffee shop is a well-known landmark

Councillor leader Ian Hall said: "The people of Preston can celebrate this success and look forward to an exciting future - with the multi-million pound city centre redevelopment scheme and other regeneration projects all now taking shape."

Councillor Ken Hudson, Conservative group leader on the council, said: "Preston can now go from strength-to-strength with local people proud of their city with its high-flying football team, development, shopping and communications potential."

Councillor Bill Chadwick, Liberal Democrat group leader said the new city had "truly come of age".

'Just society'

Preston has a population of 135, 000 and secured a royal charter in 1179.

Gulab Singh, chairman of Preston Racial Equality Council, said: "Preston is a town where true friendship, compassion and tolerance is at its best.

"It is a true multi-racial and cultural community in which everyone enjoys freedom and equality in a just society."

Mark Hendrick, MP for Preston, said: "We're planning a new city."

Preston obelisk
The 18th Century obelisk in Preston Market Square

Preston-born animator Nick Park, famous for creating characters Wallace and Gromit, said: "I am proud of my hometown of Preston.

"I have always thought that Preston has much to offer in terms of culture and the arts."

Before the announcement was made a Preston Council spokesman said: "This is an important historic town, with a diverse, vibrant community and a growing population.

"This is an excellent location with great transport links, and an attractive town to live and work."

The new city is home to the University of Central Lancashire, the seventh largest university in England.

Commercial centre

Business leaders backed the bid, pointing out that Preston was ripe for regeneration, with millions of pounds of government, European and private sector funding.

Preston has been at the centre of commerce in the county for centuries, and was a centre of industry in the 19th Century, when the heart was rebuilt as a classic Victorian town.

Factors taken into account by the organisers when assessing the bids for city status were; notable features, including significance regionally or nationally, historical features, including royal ones, and a forward looking attitude.

Across the UK there were applications from 42 towns for city status, including Preston's Lancashire neighbour Blackburn.

Click here to go to Lancashire
See also:

14 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Two NI towns awarded city status
13 Mar 02 | Scotland
City status for historic burgh
18 Dec 00 | UK
City winners named
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