Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Prime Minister Gordon Brown backs Reading city bid

The Blade
Reading boasts the new Blade development (picture by Don Cload)

Gordon Brown has thrown his weight behind plans by Reading to bid for city status during the Queen's Jubilee year in 2012.

The prime minister, who mistakenly referred to Reading as a "great city" during a speech in the town on Monday, said he hoped any bid was "successful".

He said it would be a "huge boost" for the community if the town was "finally" granted the honour.

The Berkshire town made two unsuccessful bids in 2000 and 2002.

Other 2012 contenders are set to include Medway in Kent, Croydon, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and Perth.

Beaten by Preston

Mr Brown added: "Reading is a great place and I have visited here many, many times.

"I think in the next group of cities... I think Reading has not only a great case but I hope that its bid to be an aspirant city is successful.

"I think there is a great community spirit here and think it would be a huge boost to the area to find city status had finally been given and I certainly support it."

Reading councillors agreed to form a board of representatives from groups across the town to move the plan forward.

The board includes representatives from political parties, business and community groups and members of the town's voluntary sector.

Council leader Jo Lovelock said she hoped a successful bid would "put Reading on the map".

In 2000, Reading lost out to Brighton and Hove, Wolverhampton and Inverness.

In 2002, the town was beaten to city status by Preston and Newport.

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