Tower Hamlets loses bid for City status to Chelmsford

London’s East Enders have lost out to Essex in the bid for ‘city’ status to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Tower Hamlets has been turned down by Buckingham Palace, on advice from the Cabinet Office in Downing Street, in favour of the county town of Chelmsford being elevated to a city.

It spells disappointment for the Town Hall in Blackwall’s Mulberry Place, hoping to rebrand itself as a ‘City Hall,’ after a �20,000 campaign launch at the Tower of London last May. It’s also disappointment for Canary Wharf, hoping to benefit from international city status.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman began the bid for ‘city’ prestige when he signed the application document at The Tower last May.

The bid cost council taxpayers �10,000, with another �10,000 chipped in by Canary Wharf Group which paid for a Parliamentary reception and promotion events.


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But the bid failed finally today when Downing Street plumped for Chelmsford.

Tories on the council blamed the Rahman administration for giving Tower Hamlets a bad image.

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Conservative Opposition leader Peter Golds said: “Our bid would have been affected by the poor reputation of the current administration which is turning us into a national laughing stock. I am disappointed, because the bid was strong.”

Tower Hamlets was one of 25 towns throughout the UK applying for city status, including Croydon in south London. The award to Chelmsford as well as Perth in Scotland and St Asaph in Wales was made by the Queen on advice from the Deputy Prime Minister and Lord President of the Privy Council, Nick Clegg, who said: “I have been moved by the pride and passion which people across the United Kingdom have shown in putting their nominations forward.”

City status is purely an honour and confers no extra powers or funding, the Cabinet Office points out.

At least Tower Hamlets has a consolation—the summer Olympics.

A Town Hall spokesman told The Docklands & East London Advertiser: “We may not have won this time round, but have a lot to look forward to as a ‘host’ borough for the 2012 Games and festivities marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.”

But a disappointed Canary Wharf Group would have used the new status on the world financial stage with Tower Hamlets forming the third city along the Thames side-by-side with London and Westminster.

Its strategic advisor Howard Dawber said: “Our bid helped demonstrate the tremendous changes in the East End which makes it as good as anywhere in the country and the world in terms of business, culture, heritage and philanthropy.”

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