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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 February 2007, 11:31 GMT
Manchester tops second city poll
Liam Gallagher
Some might say that Manchester shouts louder
Manchester is thought to be England's second most important city ahead of Birmingham, a BBC survey has found.

The poll revealed 48% of people thought Manchester was second behind London, compared to 40% choosing Birmingham.

This is despite Manchester being far smaller than the Midlands city and reveals people consider other aspects when they think of the "second city".

Factors such as Manchester's recent sporting success and influential music scene may play a part, it is thought.

Architect Ian Simpson, who has helped shape the skyline of both cities, said: "What I think Manchester has at the moment, is that it just has a cool edge. I think most people know it's a bit cool to be here, to work here, and to be part of this."

I think we have got to show some of the really great stuff that comes from Birmingham
Jon Bounds, website designer

The survey of 1,000 people, commissioned by BBC Inside Out, also showed that in the 16-24 age group 58% said they believed Manchester to be more important and 38% said Birmingham was.

The only age group where Birmingham came out top was in the 65 and over range where 48% considered Birmingham more important compared to 42% for Manchester.

The estimated population for Manchester in 2005 was 441,000 while more than one million people live in the Midlands city.

In sporting terms the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester raised the profile of this city while Manchester United have seen success on the domestic and European stage and are one of the richest football clubs in the world.

Urbis building, Manchester (l) and Selfridges, Birmingham
Both city centres have seen recent regeneration projects

Birmingham has also hosted more than 30 World and European championships in 20 sports over the past 15 years. But its largest football club, Aston Villa, has to go back 25 years for major success when it won the European Cup.

While the title of "second city" is unofficial, business leaders admit it can be a useful tool to market a city, especially abroad.

Sir Digby Jones, who was born in Birmingham, is a key mover in British industry and the former director general of the CBI.

"Birmingham is naturally the second most important city in Britain after London because of where she is and how important she is as part of that crossroads," he said.

Black Sabbath

Culturally, Manchester has produced influential bands such as Oasis, the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, and Joy Division over the past 20 years.

Comparatively, Birmingham is known as the home of luminaries such as Jamelia, Black Sabbath and UB40.

Jon Bounds, who runs a website promoting Birmingham, said: "I think we are lucky second city status is not decided on a Pop Idol-style voting contest.

"Maybe we are not as proud as we ought to be. We ought to get out and promote ourselves a little bit more.

"I think we have got to show some of the really great stuff that comes from Birmingham and get it out there a little bit more."

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