This week we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the whole point of the exercise.
What is the City Status Civic Honours competition?
The City Status Civic Honours competition is being held to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. It provides an opportunity for towns across the UK to bid for city status. Several other towns have already confirmed that they will be competing, including Middlesbrough, Warrington, Boston, Milton Keynes, Reading, and Crawley.
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As an ambitious and aspirational borough, the question is as much why Doncaster wouldn’t want to be part of a competition such as this, as much as why would we!
Who decided that Doncaster should bid, and were the public asked?
The decision to bid was taken by Team Doncaster, and backed by partners from across Doncaster, including Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, the NHS, Voluntary Action Doncaster, and the Doncaster Youth Council.
Given the backing by leaders in the borough, a local referendum or similar was not essential. This would have cost far more than the bid campaign itself. However that does not mean that Team Doncaster is not listening to what people are saying in a range of feedback and forums. Becoming a city could help deliver some of the priorities that people have told us they want.
We recognise not everyone will support the campaign and others will. There has been a tremendous amount of positivity so far, particularly amongst young people, who recognise the benefits of City Status not just for them, but also for future generations.
Does Doncaster meet the criteria to become a city?
We do need to show that we can meet some points ranging from having a distinct identity, civic pride, culture, heritage and history to royal associations and a record of innovation.
Contrary to traditional perceptions, a city does not need a cathedral or a minimum population.
Doncaster is clearly characteristically different from neighbouring cities such as Sheffield and Leeds, but has a more than comparable economic and demographic scale and profile to several other northern cities, such as Wakefield and Preston.
What are the benefits to Doncaster of becoming a city?
There would be many tangible benefits:
Doncaster is more likely to attract more visitors, which in turn, will improve the tourism offer for local people generating more choice of things to do, where to eat and shop and support local businesses.
More likely to attract greater levels of economic investment, creating new jobs, and further redeveloping and regenerating the borough.
More likely to gather stronger momentum and wider backing for key projects, such as a new hospital proposal, a University and airport station rail link.
More likely to attract key conferences, festivals, and concerts, with nationally recognised artists and a richer program of cultural events.
Doncaster is more likely to create more skilled jobs, allowing more young people to stay, live and work in the area, rather than moving away .
Doncaster would gain a stronger voice in shaping both the local, regional, and national agenda to get more of what the borough deserves and support the delivery of residents’ priorities.
Can Doncaster win the competition?
Yes but it is a competition and Doncaster does face strong competition. We’re not taking anything for granted.
The bid requires us to demonstrate our distinct identity, civic pride, our associations with Royalty, our record of innovation, our heritage and culture, and the vibrancy of our welcoming community.
Doncaster’s bid will present an honest, evidence rich proposal. It will tell Doncaster’s story from its Roman origins to the present day, from Conisbrough’s medieval castle to our new Danum Gallery, Library and Museum. It will provide details of our strong transport connectivity, public green spaces, shopping and market destinations, and sporting venues.
Will the character of Doncaster change if it becomes a city?
Doncaster’s character is ultimately shaped by the people and communities of Doncaster. The borough is a place of places with their own characteristics and that diversity is something to be proud of. Getting city status will not change that. Many are rightly proud of our tradition as a market town, and our market identity will feature strongly in our bid. We hope that city status will deepen the sense of public pride in what it means to come from the borough.
Will council tax and business rates go up if we become a city?
Winning city status does not lead to increases in council tax or tax or business rates.
Will city status mean that local prices go up (shopping, rent, eating out, etc.)?
Winning city status does not lead to increases in local prices, inflationary price increases are down to the local and national economic climate.
It could lead to increased wage potential, better amenities, and other cost of living benefits.
Will city status mean we get more money to fix potholes, improve services etc?
The City Status Civic Honours competition does not provide a financial investment in itself but it could open the door to more funding opportunities.
How much will it cost to bid for city status, where will the money come from, and would the money be better spent elsewhere?
The project will cost less than £50,000 in total equating to roughly 16p per resident in the borough.
The benefit of this financial outlay is that if successful, gaining City Status may lead to further inward investment, for example, attracting the Great British Rail Headquarters to Doncaster.
It would also add gravitas to bid for City of Culture, promoting the growth of creative businesses and arts-based organisations.
Will there be further costs if Doncaster wins?
A level of rebranding will inevitably follow if Doncaster becomes a city, most visibly in areas such as public signage. This will not happen immediately, and will be planned to ensure value for money.