Thames Valley town to become a city?

This morning officials from Reading are hand-delivering the town's third bid to get city status.

Residents, community groups, business representatives and voluntary organisations will join political leaders outside Reading Station on Friday to wave off the town's bid, before it is transported by train to the Cabinet Office in Central London where it will be formally submitted.

It's thought a successful bid would bring huge economic, cultural and social benefits to Reading.

With the Olympic Torch recently confirmed as coming to Reading on July 10 and the potential of promotion for Reading FC to the Premiership, a successful City Status bid would make 2012 a real year to remember for Reading.

The City Status bid outlines in detail exactly why Reading is 'a city in waiting'. Here are a few given to Heart by Reading Borough Council:

• Reading is the largest town in the south-east, with an urban population of 213,000. It is in the major urban area of the Thames Valley with a catchment of 1.7 million people and 800,000 people living within a 25 minute drive.
• Its strong links to Royalty past and present date back to the 7th century AD and include the last resting place of King Henry I and the birthplace of a future Queen, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
• It has already this year been identified by the influential Centre for Cities as a 'city to watch' and one of six 'cities' in the UK 'best placed to lead the UK's recovery.'
• Some of the world's most famous companies have chosen to set up home here - Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, BG Group, ING, Verizon Business and Symantec, to name just a few.
• Reading is the social and cultural hub of the region with unrivalled transport links by road, rail and air. Its rich past, vibrant present and exciting future means Reading has everything that's needed to be a city.

Once bids are submitted, the Government will spend the next year looking at them in detail before coming to a final decision in Spring 2012.

Tim Smith, Executive Director of Reading UK CIC, said:

'Becoming a city should be seen as a coming of age and in many cases meeting the expectations of young people, international visitors and new residents who already see Reading as 'visibly a city in all but name'. The new status should raise – further – the profile of Reading around the globe, enhancing its existing reputation as a world leader in meteorology (ECMWF & University of Reading) and as the home to a globally-renowned music festival.'

Reading Borough Council Leader, Cllr Jo Lovelock, said:

'I am grateful to everyone who has put so much into preparing Reading's bid for City Status. Reading is recognised as the regional economic capital of the Thames Valley but, with increasing competition from across the world, being formally recognised as a City would help us continue to attract investment which means jobs for local people.'

The full Reading City Status bid which will be submitted to Government will be available for viewing on Reading Borough Council's website at from mid-morning on Friday.

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