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Alcester makes bid to become Warwickshire's only city



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TO be a city or not to be? That is the question on the lips of Alcester residents with the news their town is looking to raise its profile.

Alcester Victoria Silver Band played carols as Alcester’s Christmas lights were turned on on Sunday. Photo: Mark Williamson A69/11/21/8043. (53700535)
Alcester Victoria Silver Band played carols as Alcester’s Christmas lights were turned on on Sunday. Photo: Mark Williamson A69/11/21/8043. (53700535)

It used to be simple – cities have cathedrals – but that’s no longer the case. So in a cup tie of the not-too-distant future, could we be seeing Stratford Town 1 Alcester City 2?

Warwickshire has officially been without a city since the local government boundaries were changed in the 1970s but now the race is on to catch the eye in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours Competition. The Herald reported recently that Warwick was throwing its hat into the ring – perhaps not surprising for the county town with its world-famous castle, important museums, remarkable church and the home of the county council.

But little Alcester? It is famous for its community spirit, events, great history and a fair few special buildings. But city status? Scoff you may but Alcester would not be the smallest city around and that has given hope to backers of the plan.

County Cllr Piers Daniell got in touch to say the success of others had been part of their inspiration.

He said: “While Alcester is a small town of just over 7,000 residents, we were encouraged by St Asaph’s successful bid to be recognised as a city in 2012 with a population of only 3,335. Being deserving of city status is not dependent on size but quality, we are tremendously proud of Alcester, and we have much to celebrate both from the town’s past but also its future.

Alcester’s Christmas lights were turned on on Sunday. Photo: Mark Williamson A69/11/21/7003. (53700544)
Alcester’s Christmas lights were turned on on Sunday. Photo: Mark Williamson A69/11/21/7003. (53700544)

“We feel that Alcester is an excellent example of a traditional English town, and the strength of the community is demonstrated by the fact that we have over 100 clubs, organisations and societies that currently call the town home.”

And he revealed the idea of getting involved is not just a ceremonial thing and the nature – and cost – of the bid that was submitted on Tuesday, has been carefully considered: “It is our hope that achieving city status would support us in realising our vision for 2031, attracting new businesses, people, and inward investment, as well as boosting our social development.

“We are aware that other towns entering the competition have spent many thousands of pounds putting together their bid. When taking into consideration Alcester’s economic recovery following the impact of the pandemic, it was important to us that the bid for city status was produced with no financial cost to the town. This application has therefore been written entirely by volunteers.”

Susan Juned who is involved in many aspects of the town’s life, including as a councillor, is backing the bid: “We are hopeful – it’s about raising our heads above the parapet. I’d like people to recognise Alcester as a Roman town with a long, long history. The presentation we’ve submitted is to try to stress the importance of the town and make sure we get onto the town’s needs, including economic development.

The summer bunting in Alcester High Street with the Three Tuns pub still looking sorry for itself after the recent fire. Photo: Mark Williamson A45/7/21/1861. (53700471)
The summer bunting in Alcester High Street with the Three Tuns pub still looking sorry for itself after the recent fire. Photo: Mark Williamson A45/7/21/1861. (53700471)

“I’m chair of the Roman museum and we are very proud of the town.It’s not only the civic pride. If you want something doing you can always find someone to get stuck in. Covid-19 really really emphasised how strong the community spirit is.”

She said that spirit was what attracted her to live in the town some 35 years ago.

So she is hopeful others will see all that it has to offer: “I was happy to add my name to the application!”

Fact File

Alcester

Population - 7,000+

Cathedral - No, but St Nicholas Church at the heart of the town

Famous buildings - Various properties of historical interest; Roman Alcester Museum; nearby are Coughton Court and Ragley Hall

Railway station - closed in the 1960s

Born here - Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke; footballer Tom Wilkes; First World War flying ace Francis James Davies

Famous events - Food festivals, Court Leet events and many more

St Asaph

Population - 3,335

Cathedral - Yes

Famous buildings - Ysgol Glan Clwyd, a Welsh medium secondary school

Railway station - closed in the 1960s

Born here - Footballer Ian Rush; comedian Greg Davies; pop star Lisa Scott-Lee from Steps

Famous events - North Wales International Music Festival



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