Jul 1 2011 by Greg Christison, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
Perth’s city bid boosted by announcement
PERTH’S dream of restoring city status has received a massive boost after it emerged that more than one town is set to be honoured.
In a letter to the Fair City’s Provost John Hulbert, Cabinet Office Minister Mark Harper admitted that if entrants to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee civic honours competition prove to be of a high standard, it may be impossible to choose only one winner.
The announcement has significantly improved Perth’s chances of success, as the town faces a tough challenge with more than 40 towns, including Reading and Medway in England, having indicated they are keen to enter the competition.
Responding to lobbying from Dr Hulbert and other local politicians, Mr Harper said: “I do appreciate the strength of feeling expressed by campaigners who feel that Perth lost her status in 1975 under local government regionalisation.
“I am also very aware of the pivotal role Perth has played in Scotland’s history and I am certain that the tradition of referring to Perth as the “Fair City” will continue whatever the outcome of the contest.
He added: “The logical conclusion from holding one competition (across the UK) is that there may be only one winner.
“However, as you have noted, in the event of the Millennium competition, the quantity and quality of entries was very high and three worthy entrants were chosen, including Inverness.
“It therefore remains possible for any UK-wide civic honours competition, including the current one, to result in more than one winner – and of course, for its winner(s) to be from any part of the UK.”
Delighted with the reply, Dr Hulbert, who travelled to London with MP Pete Wishart on May 26 to deliver the Perth application, urged the public to back the bid.
He said: “There now seems some potential for city status to be awarded to more than one city in the UK.
“We believe that Perth’s bid is strong enough to be considered alongside any other place in the UK.
“We have much support from people across Perth and Kinross and the rest of Scotland and we want to build on that support throughout the next six months prior to the winner or winners being announced in early 2012.
“I would now urge everyone to pledge their support and back our bid.”
Mr Wishart, the Perth and North Perthshire MP, added: “This is a very encouraging development and this change of heart greatly enhances Perth’s chances.
“This has been achieved by the compelling case that there should be more than one winner matching the different arrangements and civic ambitions throughout the UK.
“We know that if there’s to be only one winner our chances are reduced because of the number of large English applicants. Now we have everything you play for.”
Backed by First Minister Alex Salmond, the move to have its status restored follows Perth being stripped of the title during local government reorganisation in the 1970s.