Swindon drops city bid as locals are 'overwhelmingly' against it

Almost 700 people were asked whether Swindon should become a city

Swindon will not be bidding to become a city this year because polled residents are "overwhelmingly against the idea".

Swindon Borough Council has confirmed it will not be entering a competition to gain city status to celebrate the Queen’s 70th Jubilee next year.

It said a recent survey which asked residents and businesses whether city status was something the town should bid for came back “overwhelmingly against the idea".

“Almost 700 people took part in the survey with 71 per cent signalling their opposition to the bid.”

Council leader David Renard, said: “It has been a difficult year for all of us, especially our businesses, due to the pandemic, and the responses from the recent survey indicate that pursuing city status is not the right thing to be doing at the present time.

"I completely understand the need to focus on the town’s recovery and not be distracted by less important initiatives that will not provide a significant boost to the town’s businesses.”

Cllr Renard did not rule out a bid in the future, but said the town and council should concentrate on its regeneration programme first.

He said: “We have a number of significant projects we are looking to deliver, including £100m of council-led investment in the town centre over the next four years.

"We also have ambitious plans to deliver a new cultural quarter which will really put our town on the map. I think we will be far better placed to launch a strong bid for city status when all these fantastic plans have come to fruition in the years ahead.”

Previous attempts to make Swindon a city

Swindon Borough Council unsuccessfully made bids for city status in 1999 and 2002, to mark the new Millennium and Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

In 1999 Brighton & Hove, Wolverhampton and Inverness became cities. And in 2002 Preston, Newport, Gwent, Stirling, and Northern Ireland’s Lisburn and Newry were successful.

Credit: Aled Thomas, Local Democracy Reporting Service