Doncaster to bid to become a city for the fourth time

Doncaster is likely to bid again to secure city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, council and business leaders have said.

In a meeting organised by Doncaster Chamber, elected mayor Ros Jones said city status would help in securing more inward investment and help stop the ‘brain drain’ of young people.

A bid will be likely launched in the coming months and the deadline is December 2021. This will be Doncaster’s fourth bid after being turned down in 2000, 2002 and 2012.

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Chelmsford in Essex, Perth in Scotland and St Asaph, with a population of just 3,500, were awarded city status last time in 2012 from dozens of entries.

Could Doncaster town centre become Doncaster city centre?
Could Doncaster town centre become Doncaster city centre?

Reading, Swindon and Medway are just some areas that have confirmed to be bidding for city status in 2022 while Middlesborough is considering a bid.

Chris Dungworth, from Business Doncaster, said securing city status could help the borough compete for inward investment ‘on a par with Sheffield and Leeds’.

Doncaster Chamber CEO Dan Fell said although there is ‘little research or economic evidence’ about the benefits of city status, it provided a ‘statement of intent and ambition for businesses and communities’ post pandemic.

Mr Fell said they would have to learn from failed bids in the past as well as looking at successful bids such as bringing the Rugby League World Cup to Doncaster and the approval of a University Technical College.

The prospect of a celebrity or ‘famous face’ was also mentioned in order to front a future campaign.

Mayor Jones said: “It’s my gut feeling, I do believe it will assist with investment, which will actually bring about more jobs and growth which is what we need, especially as we’re coming out of this pandemic.

“I wanted to help in what we’re told of the brain drain of our young people feeling like they need to leave Doncaster for cities to get jobs. With those two points together, I think it’s the right time, I really do and I want to hear what other people think about this.

“It’s going to take a lot of effort and more importantly we’ve really got to get behind it and make sure we give it the best chance of succeeding. My own instinct is that we go for city status and go for it now.”