by Alan Watkins
What is stopping Medway becoming a city? It’s the 20th biggest conurbation in the country and outside of the capital the biggest in the South East.
It is striving to improve – and hasn’t done badly with four universities, a fine campus and a new bus station. It has support in the community.
At 6/1, it was also second favourite (behind Reading) so someone fancied us. So why were we overlooked?
It could be the cavalier way that Rochester lost its city status, not once but twice (Whitehall has a long memory).
Maybe it had something to do with all the other events in 2012 and we’ve got enough to be getting on with.
There’s 200 years of the Sappers, 200 years of Charlie D, two annual festivals in honour of him and the Diamond Jubilee.
Charlie is that hirsute Victorian author and ex-news hack who wasn’t born here, spent much of his life in Pompey and Broadstairs (when he wasn’t hopping into his mistress’s bed) and died in Gravesham. Medway adopted him, but the government robbed him of his last wish, and buried him in a congested corner of Westminster instead of Rochester Cathedral where he really wanted to lie in eternal rest.
Someone worked out most of his famous scenes were set in Rochester (must have been a council researcher). We’ve bid for the City of Medway three times.
The point now is to start asking why a town like St Asaph (population 3,400) should get the title while 250,000 of us have no idea where it is.
And before any clever Welsh geographer mutters Denbighshire, that’s a county with the same size population as the district of Gillingham, Medway (93,000).
I hope the councillors are now re-examining their laid-back approach to the city bid, and comparing their lack of effort with the energy of the other contestants. Maybe Chelmsford will throw the bouquet our way next time.
It won’t make much difference: the next English city will probably be in the west, and most likely in the north-west.
I suspect the Rochester supporters will have had a collective smirk.
Right, back to the drawing board ...