by Alan Watkins
City status for Medway seems more and more possible.
Chatting with councils linked with the 2012 bids, their money is on Medway winning the title.
Objectors will claim the honorific “city” is only given to named towns, or that you have to have a cathedral, or only towns with an “i” in the name can qualify.
Some diehards even insist you can’t have an administrative area awarded the title. Think again.
There never was a hard and fast rule about having a cathedral. It just happened to be a coincidence of history. As for having to be a named town, or barring administrative areas, the precedent has been set.
If either of them were the case, Brighton and Hove would never have become a city but it is, and it has gone from strength to strength since 2000.
This discussion proved to be somewhat heated a few years ago when I poured cold water on the idea during a meeting with a minister at the Historic Dockyard. “Oh, it can happen,” I was told. “We can do whatever we like in that respect.”
Lord Prescott, when he was just common-or-garden John, told me the same.
The thing about the Thames Gateway is Medway has always been named as the city of the Gateway. It’s the south-east’s biggest conurbation (outside London). Indeed, it is one of the 20 largest communities in the country. And of course it has a cathedral.
Consider how towns get bigger. Someone moves a line on a map. That’s why Brompton is not in Gillingham any longer - it is in Rochester. Maudlin Old Codgers can argue over their ale or teacups: the younger generation determines what we are called.
Think about Chatham Maritime: 90 per cent of it was in Gillingham. Now the residential areas are in Rochester and Strood. It has become a separate place. The 10,000 students who study there have a different understanding to how the rest of us know it.
Rainham was part of Milton, which is now in Sittingbourne but once ruled it. Then in 1928 it became part of the administrative area of Gillingham.
All the changes came from political decisions.We elect the decision-makers. If they decide Medway is a city, great!