SNP South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has set the wheels in motion for Dumfries to be considered for City Status, as part of a competition announced by Her Majesty the Queen and the UK Government, in which several UK towns are to be granted Civic Honours ahead of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.
The South Scotland MSP, following representations from several constituents and the Dumfries People’s Project, has written to the Leader and Chief Executive of Dumfries and Galloway Council to ask whether the local authority would consider supporting and submitting the application for Civic Honours, as the criteria stipulate that applications must be made by local authorities on behalf of the local community. Ms Harper has already received a positive response from the Leader of the Council, Cllr Murray, who is interested in exploring the possibility further.
Ms Harper has stated that it is her intention to bring together a meeting of different community groups, prominent individuals within the Dumfries area, as well as people with vast knowledge of our local culture and history, with a view to filling out the application form which has been created by the UK Government. There are a number of criteria for applying, and the South Scotland MSP believes that Dumfries exceeds them all and more. Ms Harper has also written to other elected members across Dumfries asking them to get on board with the bid.
Commenting, Ms Harper said:
“Her Majesty’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee presents a once in ten year opportunity for a number of UK towns to be considered for Civic Honours, including City Status. After being contacted by various constituents and after looking at the process, it is my view that City Status for Dumfries has the opportunity to bring a number of positives both for Dumfries, as well as the wider region as a whole. Dumfries has the unique position of putting us on the map as Scotland’s first and last city, living up to our reputation as the Queen of the South.
“Dumfries has a rich culture and history, as well as civic pride to be proud of. Whether it be through our connection to J.M. Barrie and the Moat Brae Peter Pan Centre, Robert Burns and all his connections to Dumfries, the Theatre Royal, The Crichton Estate and its ground-breaking approach to mental health, our community events like the Big Burns Supper and Guid Neighbour’s, as well as our universities, UWS, OU and the University of Glasgow. We also have abundant green spaces in Dock Park, Heathhall Forest, King George IV Park and the Crichton Gardens, to name a few. We are surrounded by forestry, cycling and active travel infrastructure across both Dumfriesshire and Galloway. All of these assets make us truly unique and are assets we should be proud to have.
“I am pleased that I have already received a positive response from the Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Cllr Elaine Murray, and I will now be contacting various community organisations and representatives to bring together a meeting of interested parties to discuss how we can get the application submitted prior to the December 18th deadline. I am also contacting other elected members across Dumfries to ask them to get on board.”
Mark Jardine, Chair of Dumfries People’s Project, added:
“I’ve been actively seeking to get city status for Dumfries for over 20 years and it was a dream of mine as a child. Since Inverness got city status the whole region has gone from strength to strength and I firmly believe that Dumfries and Galloway could do likewise.
“Just imagine the marketing opportunities from legitimate statements such as “Visit Scotland ‘s first city” or “Dumfries, the first city in Scotland”. ……This is an opportunity we must grasp with both hands and I am grateful to Emma for taking this forward.”
Criteria to be considered for Civic Honours, including City Status:
Each town’s application must demonstrate:
• Distinct identity;
• Civic pride;
• Cultural infrastructure, interesting heritage, history and traditions
• Vibrant and welcoming community;
• Record of innovation;
• Sound governance and administration;
• Associations with Royalty; and
• Other particularly distinctive features, age, residents or communities who have made widely recognised significant contributions to society and cultural infrastructure.