We have been officially named a city to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – and while there’s much rejoicing across Doncaster at the announcement, plenty of questions have already arisen as to what it will mean for the town, sorry, city – and it’s people in the years ahead.
Will Council Tax go up? Will prices rise in the shops? Why wasn’t there a vote to ask people what they wanted?
Here, we’ll answer all those questions and more as we adjust to becoming a city.
How did Doncaster become a city and what is the City Status Civic Honours competition?
The City Status Civic Honours competition was held to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. It provided an opportunity for towns across the UK to bid for city status. Milton Keynes and Colchester were the other English towns selected to become cities, alongside Doncaster.
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, Team Doncaster listened to what people said in a range of feedback and forums. Becoming a city could help deliver some of the priorities that people have said they want.
A spokesman said: “We recognise not everyone will support the campaign and others will. There has been a tremendous amount of positivity, particularly strong amongst young people, who recognise the benefits of City Status not just for them, but also for future generations.”
How long has Doncaster been campaigning to become a city?
The road to city status has been a long one – more than twenty years.
Doncaster applied in 2000, 2002 and 2012 and was turned down on those three previous occasions.
What are the benefits to Doncaster of becoming a city?
This is what Doncaster Council has to say on the matter.
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.
Doncaster is more likely to attract greater levels of economic investment, creating new jobs, and further redeveloping and regenerating the borough.
Doncaster is 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.
Doncaster is 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 them moving away to other localities.
Doncaster will gain a stronger voice in shaping both the local, regional, and national agenda to get more of what the borough deserves and to support the delivery of residents’ priorities.
Will the character of Doncaster change as 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 the market identity featured strongly in the bid.
A spokesman said: “We hope that city status will deepen the sense of public pride in what it means to come from the borough. We believe we are special in being a city of places.”
Will council tax and business rates go up as 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.
At the same time, city status 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 has it cost to bid for city status, where will the money come from, and would the money be better spent elsewhere?
The project cost less than £50,000 in total equating to roughly 16p per resident in the borough. The total budget is a very small cost compared the budgets of partners and the council and could lead to significant sums of potential inward investment.
The benefit of this financial outlay is that gaining City Status may lead to further inward investment, for example, attracting the Great British Rail Headquarters to Doncaster.
It will also add gravitas to bid for City of Culture, promoting the growth of creative businesses and arts-based organisations.
A statement added: “And, whilst the positive impact City Status will have on factors such as income levels, educational opportunities, employment status and levels of equality are difficult to predict, we know that by attracting more investment in Doncaster, we can create more opportunities that would support the improvement of resident’s health, wellbeing and aspirations.”
Will there be further costs if Doncaster wins?
A level of rebranding will inevitably follow as 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.
So why was Doncaster chosen?
It’s history was a large part of the successful bid.
Doncaster was founded by the Romans in 71AD, when it was known as ‘Danum’
It was then listed as one of Britain’s 28 cities (known as ‘Caer-Daun’) in the 9th century by Nennius – author of the Historia Brittonum
In 1194 Richard the Lionheart granted Doncaster its first charter, followed by a royal markets charter in 1248
Back in the 18th century, Doncaster Town Centre was a significant stop over point between London and Edinburgh, which created an industry in coach building and horse breeding. It is fitting that the oldest horse racing classic in the world is hosted in Doncaster, the St Leger Stakes that was first held in 1776, with Doncaster Racecourse holding the first aviation meeting in the UK in 1909
Doncaster is home to the St Leger Stakes – the oldest of Britain’s five horse racing Classics, running since 1776
The 12th century medieval Conisbrough Castle in Doncaster inspired Sir Walter Scott’s novel, ‘Ivanhoe – the first citation of Robin Hood, meaning Robin Hood came from Doncaster, rather than Nottingham
Towards the end of the 19th century ‘the Plant’ railway works were established in Hexthorpe where the Stirling Single, Flying Scotsman and Mallard were designed and built.
Doncaster is a military town, home to a large proportion of Gurkha families and veterans who served in Her Majesty's armed forces.
Doncaster already has a population of more than 312,000 and so is operating as a city in terms of both population and services that can be accessed here already
New developments are planned, with a growth target over 18,400 new homes to be built by 2035
A vibrant local economy worth around £6 billion with over 9,000 businesses
Doncaster is home to an international airport, providing connections worldwide
One of the busiest rail stations on the East Coast Main line is situated in Doncaster, sitting at the confluence of several others and providing fast rail links across the UK. Trains from Doncaster to London are fast and frequent. The journey takes around 88 minutes, with an average of 60 trains a day.
Doncaster is also located at the centre of the country’s motorway network, making it a Connected City at the heart of the UK, with easy access to and from the M18, M1, A1(M), M62 and the M180
Eighty-seven percent of the UK population is reachable in four hour’s drive time from Doncaster
Today, Doncaster is an important town for connectivity with the second largest representation of transport and storage jobs in the Yorkshire and Humber region.