Explained: What city status would mean for Ipswich

Ipswich Waterfront

Could Ipswich get a big boost from city status? - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

What would city status mean for Ipswich? Would residents enjoy any benefits from a change in name — or is it just a little piece of window-dressing?

City status in itself does not bring extra government money or formal changes to its local government. It does not mean the council chair becomes a Lord Mayor instead of a Mayor.

And cities do not have to have a cathedral. Of the five English towns given city status over the last 30 years only one, Chelmsford, had a cathedral at the time.

However, city status has been seen as being very important to communities when it comes to attracting new investment, especially from overseas — and civic leaders believe it could be very important for the future of the area.

What could it mean for Ipswich?

One official who was involved in Chelmsford's successful city status bid in 2012 said the decision had been transformative for the area.

He said: "It certainly helped boost the level of confidence in the area and made it easier to go out trying to get investment — although I wouldn't want to say it was just an economic factor.

"Since city status you've seen all the changes in the centre of Chelmsford like John Lewis coming in. I think the decision helped that."

Chelmsford City Centre

The centre of Chelmsford has been given a big boost since it became a city. - Credit: Paul Geater

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He said having city status also made a big difference when trying to persuade foreign-based companies to move to Chelmsford: "It's much easier to 'sell' the attractions of a city," he added.

Preston in Lancashire was created a city for The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002. Since then business leaders have talked about the "Preston Effect" as investment has flowed into the area.

North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said earlier this week that if Ipswich were a city it would be much easier to persuade ministers and senior civil servants that it was worthy of major government investment.

What could happen to Ipswich Town Football Club?

Another issue that has been raised is the name of the football club. If Ipswich were a city that could be changed or stay the same — in 1969 Swansea Town became Swansea City even though there was Cardiff City down the road and the two remain fierce local rivals.

Why has Ipswich not become a city before?

Ipswich bid before in 1992 when Sunderland became a city, in 2000 when Brighton & Hove and Wolverhampton were honoured and in the Queen's Golden Jubilee 2002 when Preston became a city.

But it is unclear as to why the town has missed out previously — and no reasons are given for or against. 

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