Reading reacts to failed city bid

Published: 14 Mar 2012 17:3019 comments

REACTIONS are still flooding in after Reading's city status disappointment this morning.

More than 18 months of anticipation turned to shock and disappointment when the civic honour was awarded to Chelmsford in Essex, Perth in Scotland and St Asaph in Wales.

Hundreds logged on to social network websites to express their disbelief, with many having never heard of the winning towns.

Steven Wicks, 37, from Caversham, said: "I am very surprised because Reading definitely deserves to be a city. I thought we had it."

Christine McCluskey, 58, from Tilehurst, said: "I can't believe it. Chelmsford? Essex, really? I'm very disappointed."

A Chronicle reader added: "Such a shame - St where? I thought it would be third time lucky!"

Reading was one of 25 towns competing for city status to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and officials were queuing up to voice their disappointment.

Mary Bayliss, the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, added: "I thought Reading had a really good chance and is so worthy of being a city because it is such an important place. I'm very disappointed."

Rev Vernon Orr, the vicar of St Agnes' Church in Whitley, said: "I was shocked, that was my first reaction. However, city status is about how others see us and I think what is important for Reading is how we see ourselves. I see Reading as a significant town that is on the verge of even greater influence in our country and the world. We have a destiny that will be fulfilled regardless of whatever "status" others may grant us."

But not everyone in the town was upset. Reading Green Party Rob White said: "Jobs in the local economy are a priority for the Green Party. We were never convinced of the benefits of city status and we wont be shedding any tears. We would rather see Reading as a great town than a league two city."

The last civic honours competition was held in 2002 to mark the Golden Jubilee when Preston, Stirling, Newport, Lisburn and Newry were awarded city status and Exeter was awarded a Lord Mayoralty.

For more reaction pick up the Reading Chronicle tomorrow.

Jump to first paragraph.

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  • Stephen Green
    Unregistered User
    Mar 14, 17:44
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    What a shame, I really thought we had it this time. Whole thing made worse by BBC Berkshire wrongly telling everyone that we'd got it...

    Recommend?   Yes 10     No 1

  • MagsiP
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    Mar 14, 18:05
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    I am originally from Northampton. This town also always misses out on city status applications. There we always say it is because the town supported the Parliamentarians in the Civil War. Perhaps this applies to Reading too!

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 4

  • TabbyBoy
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    Mar 14, 18:23
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    With all the hype and over-confidence about Reading winning, I was nearly certain that we'd lose out again. Luckily I put £100 each on Perth & Middlesborough to win so, I pick up my dosh tomorrow morning (£2,300 as I fixed the odds a few months ago)! Please, please, please replace those "City Centre" signs in the Oracle with "Town Centre" as these probably put the kybosh on it anyway and are inaccurate. Let's not apply for a 4th time as it's getting embarrassing now. I expect the next opportunity will be Charles' coronation? The Queen has always hated Reading (I don't blame her) and Charles may feel different.

    Recommend?   Yes 7     No 2

  • ReadingCitizen
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    Mar 14, 19:19
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    Now if we'd bid to rename Reading as Warsaw-on-Thames, I bet we'd have better luck.

    Recommend?   Yes 5     No 5

  • The City of Reading
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    Mar 14, 19:43
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    Reading will continue to prosper despite this news. Join www.thecityofreading.com to continue to promote Reading.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 5

  • Mollymay
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    Mar 14, 20:22
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    Why is it called theCITYofreading website?

    And hear, hear to TabbyBoy's comments they've been aggravating many of us for years; they've been up there for years, so obviously not placed in anticipation of this bid!

    It's said this is the 3rd attempt, I'm almost sure there was one in the '80s? and possibly even one in the 60's. I certainly recollect being involved in some sort of bid festivities both of those times?

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 1

  • Exiled Chelmsfordian
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    Mar 14, 22:55
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    ..... and what is so wrong about Chelmsford - County town, Cathedral with one of the largest dioceses in the country, Commercial centre of one of the largest counties in England, larger population than Reading. Chelmsford had been trying for city status for years too. Sorry but the hype and overconfidence did no favours

    Recommend?   Yes 5     No 8

  • Reading11
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    Mar 14, 23:43
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    the only thing i have to say is get your facts right Chelmsford has not got a larger population than Reading , as an urban area Reading is nearly double the population of Chelmsford !!

    Recommend?   Yes 8     No 2

  • Britains first city
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    Mar 15, 00:33
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    This result is bizarre. It shows up how little merit and how much politics is involved. Chelmsford was not even the popular choice in Essex!

    Recommend?   Yes 4     No 3

  • mischievous
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    Mar 15, 00:43
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    Why the shock? Reading failed to make the grade - we are a town and that is official; move on. If you ever wondered how others see us, you now have the answer. The Council has been so full of spin that it actually started to believe their own hype. Reading is buses and a rather shabby outlook - Whitley, Cemetery Junction, Orts Road, Parts of Caversham, Parts of Tilehurst, the Oxford Road - yes we are what we are and that is not a city.

    Reading does not service Berkshire. Reading is a transport hub. Bracknell stands more of a chance of being a city than we do and that is saying something.

    Recommend?   Yes 9     No 3

  • ozzo
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    Mar 15, 03:10
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    Why are people in Reading so shocked, it's only a transport hub, and a kind of gateway into London. I must admit I was surprised at Chelmsford being the English town that was chosen, in my humble opinion, with all factors considered, I had towns such as Dudley, Middlesbrough, and Luton ahead of Reading anyway.

    Recommend?   Yes 4     No 3

  • Paul Gary Saunders
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    Mar 15, 09:31
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    Local legend suggests Queen Victoria was not amused with her reception when visiting Reading. As it was normal practice to erect a statue after a visit by a monarch, Victoria insisted that her statue should have it's back turned on the town. If you go into Reading today and see the statue it does indeed have her looking towards Caversham (which in those days was NOT part of Reading. They came under Reading in the 1911 boundary changes) with her back to the town. She also made sure Reading would never benefit from any Royal charter EVER. This could be a load of old pony but with every old tale could have an element of truth.

    Recommend?   Yes 3     No 1

  • FACT
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    Mar 15, 10:30
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    You cannot polish a third world slum it would appear. And rightly so.

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  • Western Borderer
    Unregistered User
    Mar 15, 11:17
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    The arrogant posturing of the council could not have helped the bid. The 'city centre' signs etc., have always been inaccurate and convey an unfavourable impression, as have the comments of many of our elected officials. The decision as to whether a place becomes a city rests with the Queen and the presumption of Reading in that regard was both unattractive and disrespectful. Also the population of the town is not greater than that of Chelmsford or many of the other towns that applied (Middlesbrough, Dudley and Luton to name but three). Earley, Woodley, Calcot etc are in different boroughs, are proud of their identities and are not in Reading. The opportunity to have a greater Reading council was lost in 1998 when the existing six district councils in the county put their vested interests above what would may well have been a better alternative local government structure. There were a lot of strong bids to become a city this time around; Reading's was one of them, but Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph are all worthy winners (for very different reasons). Good luck to them, and, if Reading should consider applying again, a little less hubris and more humility would not go amiss.

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 1

  • The City of Reading
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    Mar 15, 12:04
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    Still really disappointed today as Reading is a City in all but name. There are a few theories floating about as to why City Status went to Chelmsford and not Reading which is on the website http://www.thecityofreading.com/2012/03/15/reading-loses-out-on-city-status-the-full-reaction/

    But Reading will continue to prosper despite this and still has a huge amount to offer the Thames Valley and the UK.

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 2

  • david H
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    Mar 15, 12:34
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    That's ridiculous.Give it to Chelmsford?!Essex! Bunch of Plastic Cockneys that can't even Speak English properly!

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 3

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  • TomAinsworth
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    Mar 16, 19:11
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    I blame John Redwood: I've heard it said that he had a hand in getting the political boundaries of Berkshire fixed as they are now due to the Wokingham connection.

    But if someone from say Birmingham asks someone from Earley, Woodley, or Calcot where they're from, what do they say? Wokingham? West Berkshire? No, Reading! If it wasn't for the bizarre local authority boundaries, Reading would have been a city way back when.

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 1

  • Speaker
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    Mar 18, 03:06
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    Bit unfair to say people from Essex are plastic Cockneys who can't speak English. Colchester was the popular choice in Essex, and while it may have seen Reading as a contender, it is Britain's first ever recorded city - a status that has been lost over time! It is at the time of writing the fastest growing borough in the country with 181,000 residents - and, not forgetting it has a major Garrison base and a university amongst a large selection of attractions.

    As for Chelmsford, what a place to call a city!

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 0

  • Rush Shukla
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    Dec 4, 14:06
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    Reading can and never will be a city, ever. Where is the cathedral, theatre, culture????

    You walk in to Reading and all you see is an endless array of shops, cafes and bars. Its a Weatherspoon town, a drive- thru at best.

    I will vouch for the amazing countryside and riding trails which surround the town which is probably its only redeeming feature along with the Kennet and Avon canal path which also makes for some splendid trekking.

    Cuisine ain't bad either, there are plenty of good quality and award winning restaurants which reflects the rich ethnic diversity of the town, another plus point, but seriously all these things as good as they are don't substitute the lack of culture.

    Where are the artists, musicians etc???? I would love to see a live music/performing arts scene develop more that draws a more bohemian crowd but there are just too many straight white and blue collar types here that don't appreciate real music. A few buskers in the town centre is the closest we come to culture. Its ironic we host the Reading Festival here yet that cultural weekend bubble just doesn't transcribe onto the town one bit.

    Reading is just a drinking man's town at best, a place to meet up and go on a pub crawl.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 1