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Sunday, 26 November, 2000, 14:38 GMT
Welsh towns could miss city status
St Asaph Cathedral
St Asaph's cathedral gives it nominal city status
Towns in Wales look set to lose out in the race to gain city status to mark the Millennium.

St Asaph, Newport and Wrexham are among the six Welsh towns hoping the Queen would confer the honour on them.

But it is reported that two towns in England and one in Scotland are favourites to receive city status.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy is said to be lobbying for a Welsh town
Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is said to be unhappy, and lobbying for a Welsh town to be included.

Reports say the decision has been delayed by a Cabinet row over a Home Office proposal to name two English towns for the honour - but none in Wales or Northern Ireland.

The choice in England is reported to be among Brighton and Hove, Wolverhampton and Swindon, while Inverness has reportedly been given the nod north of the border.

A Government source said: "It is understood that there are suggestions there are to be two English cities and one in Scotland, and it is believed that Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is unhappy about that and is making representations on the issue."

The Home Office said that none of the 39 applicants - 27 from England, four Scotland, six from Wales and two from Northern Ireland - had been ruled out.

No date set

But it is widely reported that there is a shortlist.

A spokesman said: "We are aiming for an announcement by the end of the year. No firm date has been set."

When bookmakers William Hill closed the book on the competition in April, Luton was even money favourite to win city status, with Brighton and Hove 4/1, Guildford 11/2, and Inverness 14/1.

Swindon and Wolverhampton were joint ninth favourites at 33/1.

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said one punter had wagered 1,000 at 33/1 on Luton - the biggest single bet staked - and money had been placed on around 25 of the contenders.

The list of towns in Wales applying Millennium city status is Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Newport, Newtown, St Asaph and Wrexham.

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