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Time for town to go for status as new city.

Byline: HENRYK ZIENTEK henryk.zientek@trinitymirror.com @HenrykZientek

IT'S time for Huddersfield to become a city.

That's the view of entrepreneur Graham Leslie - and a group of influential business people in the town agree with him.

Graham invited 17 of the town's leading business figures to discuss whether or not they would support an application for Huddersfield to become a city.

"Everyone around the table agreed," he said. "We had a good meeting and everyone is very supportive. The next stage is to get more companies engaged with a larger scale meeting, perhaps at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre or John Smith's Stadium."

Graham said city status would give Huddersfield more clout in the region - ensuring more jobs, more investment and more support for its industries. Schemes such as the ambitious HD One leisure and retail development alongside the stadium would also benefit, he said. He said: "Without city status there is the danger that all the investment will go to Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester and we will become a backwater. The worry is that Leeds will become a magnet for investment. It is important we fight our corner."

"Leeds is a fabulous city. I love it to bits, but Leeds has its own skill sets in areas like finance. We have our skills sets in our industries and we are quite innovative. We need to build on our strengths."

Graham, who is the founder of pharmaceutical business Galpharm International and professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Huddersfield, said with Brexit looming, city status would help project Huddersfield on the world stage.

The town had several successful national and international companies, but he said more was needed. "We have to be more international," he said. "We can only do that with investment to fund facilities in areas like engineering, technology and robotics and by bringing people into the area."

The high-powered gathering, which met over lunch at the Woodman Inn, Thunderbridge, included Prof Bob Cryan, vicechancellor of the University of Huddersfield; Sir John Harman, a former leader of Kirklees Council and chairman of Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd; and Ken Davy, chairman of Huddersfield Giants and founder of independent financial adviser support group SimplyBiz Group.

They were joined by others including Richard Butterfield, of corporate branding specialist Principle; Nick Glynne, of online retailer Buy it Direct; Nick Paxton, former chief executive of Silvercross; Zak Patel, chief executive and founder of O2 franchise Talk Direct; Jason Taylor, former commercial manager at Kirklees College; and Nick Brown, founder of Fleet Management Group, now FMG Support.

Graham said that if the wider business community backed the case for city status more work would be done researching how to go about applying.

City status might prove controversial if it meant a change of name for Huddersfield Town. But Graham said he didn't think a "I don't think that would be a problem," he said. "I don't think it would be an anomaly."

How does a town become a city? According to the Department for Constitutional Affairs website, city status is a rare mark of distinction granted by the Queen on the advice of ministers and conferred by Letters Patent. It is for the Queen to decide when a competition for city status should be held. Competitions are usually held on occasions such as important royal anniversaries.

How many 'new' cities are there in the UK? There are currently 69 cities granted city status by letters patent or royal charter. Five towns were awarded city status to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 - Preston, Stirling in Scotland, Newport in Wales and Northern Ireland's Lisburn and Newry were selected from 42 towns which entered the competition. Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph in Wales gained city status in 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee from 25 applicants. What are the benefits? Campaigners for city status argue that being a city is a massive marketing tool to help raise the profile of a town to attract businesses, visitors and investment. They also argue that city status provides official recognition of a town's importance within a region and engenders civic pride among local people. Campaigners in Preston, which gained city status in 2002, say it has proved a unique selling point when talking to investors and developers and puts Preston in "an elite club... recognised nationally and internationally as a place that means business."
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 9, 2017
Words:727
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