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Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Campaigning to regain city status for Medway towns
By Hannah Ratcliffe
BBC Kent

A view from the air of Medway
An aerial view of the River Medway and its surrounding towns

Medway Council has been a unitary authority since 1998. On the 24 March 2010 it launched its third campaign to become a city.

As a unitary authority, the council is independent of Kent County Council, although it is still within the ceremonial county of Kent.

Rochester, one town within Medway, had been a city for eight centuries.

It lost its city status due to an administrative error when Medway became a unitary authority.

The slip-up was discovered by the City of Rochester Society, which found that it was missing from the Lord Chancellor's list of UK cities. Rochester received city status in 1211.

The only way for Rochester to regain its status, or for Medway as a whole to granted city status, is for the Queen to grant the honour.

Medway Council applied for city status for the whole of Medway in 2000 and 2002 but both were unsuccessful. On the last occasion Medway lost out to Brighton and Hove.

The creation of Medway

Rochester Catherdral
Rochester's cathedral is the second oldest in Britain

Several times since the early 19th century, proposals had been considered to amalgamate the Medway towns under a single local authority.

In 1903 the Borough of Gillingham was created and Rainham was added to its area of jurisdiction in 1928.

It was not until the reorganisation of local government in 1974 that any major changes took place. In that year, the City of Rochester, the Borough of Chatham and Strood Rural District Council joined together to form Medway District Council.

The name of this new body was changed to the City of Rochester-upon-Medway in 1982.

In 1998, Gillingham Borough Council joined the body creating today's Medway Council.

Many smaller towns and villages such as Frindsbury, Brompton, Walderslade, Luton and Wigmore lie within the conurbation. Over half of the unitary authority's area is parished and rural in nature.

The significance of Medway

Chatham dockyard
Chatham dockyard is now a visitor attraction

The strategic location of the Medway towns at the mouth of the river Medway have made them historically significant to Kent and to England.

Rochester was an important site to the Romans and the cathedral is the second oldest in Britain. Chatham's naval dockyard was a strong part of the country's defences as well as having an important role in international trading.

Medway is one of the areas included in the Thames Gateway development scheme.

It is also the home of Universities at Medway, a tri-partite collaboration of the University of Greenwich, the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University on a single campus in Chatham.


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