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Explainer: Bangor is now a city but what does the status mean and are there any benefits?


Bangor is one of eight towns to be granted city status. Pic: Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Bangor is one of eight towns to be granted city status. Pic: Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Bangor is one of eight towns to be granted city status. Pic: Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Co Down’s famous seaside spot has been named Northern Ireland’s newest city as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.

The news means Bangor will join Belfast, Londonderry, Lisburn, Armagh and Newry in the exclusive club across the province.

Some in the town – sorry, city – might be asking what this actually means for them given that Bangor has historically always been considered a draw for tourists around the country.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What is city status?

City status is officially granted by the Queen on the advice of UK Government ministers. There is no set criteria for becoming a city and importantly, it is not related to the size of a particular town.

Historically, the status was given to towns which were home to a cathedral. However, this is no longer the case.

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Are there any official benefits from becoming a city?

The accolade itself does not come with any additional finances from the government, nor does it automatically mean a town will undergo any immediate changes or upgrades.

However, there is some evidence from experts and a number of reports carried out in those areas granted city status which appear to show a potential benefit can emerge from becoming a city in some circumstances.

According to the UK Government, who announced the list of latest cities, the winning of the status “can provide a boost to local communities and open up new opportunities for people who live there, as is the case with previous winners Perth and Preston where the local economies benefited from their improved national and global standing”. 

They added: “Research shows that Perth, which was granted city status in 2012 as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, has reaped the full benefits, with the local economy expanding by 12% in the decade it was granted city status.”

How did Bangor apply to become a city?

An application was required as part of the 2022 Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours Competition, with 38 bids coming in from across the UK and for the first time British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

An expert panel heard those bids, with applicants asked to talk about the distinct identity and community which they feel means their area deserves to become a city, as well as evidence of links to royalty.

The panel then worked with Ministers to make the recommendations, before they were approved by the Queen.

The other seven successful applicants were Stanley on the Falkland Islands; Douglas on the Isle of Man; Colchester, Doncaster and Milton Keynes in England; Dunfermline in Scotland, and Wrexham in Wales.

Reaction from those in Bangor

DUP North Down MLA Stephen Dunne suggested the new title will present an opportunity to “really develop the potential of Bangor”.

“This is exciting news particularly as it comes as part of Her Majesty's historic Platinum Jubilee Celebrations,” he added.

“Bangor is a wonderful place to live, visit and do business, with its marina, coastal walks, vibrant independent businesses and excellent schools.”

Meanwhile Alliance Party MLA Andrew Muir said he was “really chuffed” to hear the news.

“As someone born in Bangor Hospital back in 1976, grew up in the town and so proud to call place my home, really chuffed to learn Bangor is to be awarded city status,” he tweeted.

“I love Bangor to bits, it's a fantastic place to live, work, visit and invest. City of Bangor a title well deserved.”

UUP MLA  Alan Chambers added that the new title would “assist the regeneration plans in place for our latest city".

“The awarding of City status to Bangor as part of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations is fantastic news which will be a welcome boost to the local area,” he said.

“It is a well deserved honour that will assist the regeneration plans in place for our latest city and congratulations are due to all those who have played their part in preparing the bid.”

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