Medway’s City Bid

According to the Medway Messenger, “A delegation led by council leader Rodney Chambers – backed by business and youth leaders – went to Downing Street to hand in the application papers to the Prime Minister.”

These are some of the points mentioned in the article along with some of my counter-points:

  • Councillor Chambers said Medway was already a city in all but name.
  • The oft-repeated phrase that Medway is “a city in all but name” is a marketing line and, if this is really the case, why does the area need to become an official city?  Does Rodney Chambers really expect us to accept his comment on the BBC’s South East Politics Show (on 22nd May) that companies looking to invest in an area “look for the title of city”?  The programme’s researchers could not find any evidence that city status brings increased economic activity or more tourist.
  • At a reception in the House of Commons for supporters of the bid, Councillor Chambers said Medway has a rich heritage and a great future.
  • The River Medway may have its own heritage but the “rich heritage” referred to by Rodney Chambers belongs to the towns, e.g. Rochester Castle.  Given Rodney Chambers and others from Medway Council are now saying the towns will retain their identities, it is strange how they rarely, if ever, refer to Chatham’s “worldfamous historic dockyard” or Rochester Cathedral.  Indeed, Medway Council’s response to the ASA regarding a complaint about “City of Medway” included the statement “that Medway’s [my emphasis] cathedral was the second oldest in Britain” – you may also like to read our blog on the matter.
  • The bid is supported by Medway’s four universities, a varied and extensive business community, councillors across Kent and the political divide as well as many individuals.

  • Medway Council’s chief executive, Neil Davies, said it was a momentous day for the Towns.
  • In what way can a delegation to Downing Street to hand in city application papers to the Prime Minister be considered “momentous”?  Nothing has been decided.

And, of course, the area’s residents have still not been properly consulted about the city status bid.

David M. Davison

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