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Thursday, 25 April 2024
Boris Johnson announces Southend to be granted city status in honour of David Amess

The BBC reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the Queen has agreed Southend will be granted city status following the killing of MP Sir David Amess.

It said that Mr Johnson told the House of Commons he was "happy" to announce Southend "will be accorded the city status it so clearly deserves".

The prime minister said: "That Sir David spent almost 40 years in this House, but not one day in ministerial office, tells everything about where his priorities lay."

He added Sir David "never once witnessed any achievement by any resident of Southend that could not somehow be cited in his bid to secure status for that distinguished town".

According to the BBC, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told Parliament he was "so pleased" by the announcement.

Sir Keir said the news was "a fitting tribute to Sir David's hard work".

This morning I laid a wreath in memory of Sir David Amess MP, a much loved colleague and friend. My thoughts are with his wife, children and friends/Boris Johnson official Facebook page

James Duddridge, who represents Rochford and Southend East, the constituency neighbouring Sir David's Southend West seat, said the decision "means a lot to everybody".

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He said residents did not want Southend to be remembered as the city where Sir David was killed but " for characteristics such as its pier, airport and football".

The BBC mentioned that Sir David, who championed Southend's bid for city status as part of The Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022, was described by Home Secretary Priti Patel as "Mr Southend" following his death.

As well as bringing extra prestige, city status is an opportunity for areas to attract more tourism and boost the local economy.

On its website, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, which had campaigned with Sir David, previously said city status would bring not only "prestige and standing, but an opportunity to lever further investment".

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On the latest announcement, council leader Ian Gilbert said he felt a "mixture of emotions" after hearing the news.

He said it was "clearly what Sir David would have wanted".

He added: "While I don't want it to have come in these circumstances, I'm still pleased and proud that it is happening."

Labour councillor for Kursaal ward in Southend, Matt Dent, said: "Everyone who knew Sir David knew how passionate he was about Southend getting city status.

"It was something he worked into every conversation. It's such a shame he is not here to see it."

Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford and Southend United FC both tweeted that it was a "fitting" tribute to Sir David.

Downing Street said the award of city status to Southend was a "very rare honour".

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The prime minister's official spokesman said: "This was an exceptional circumstance."

"It is a very rare honour which Sir David campaigned passionately for.

"He was a tireless champion of Southend, celebrating its achievements, the work of its residents and its thriving local businesses and diversity."

In a 2019 speech to the Commons calling on Southend to be given city status, Sir David celebrated the town for everything from its hospital and airport to its investment in digital infrastructure.

He also praised Leigh-on-Sea for being voted the "happiest place in the United Kingdom" and said people in Southend "walk on water" while on its famous pier.

Source: BBC