Thames Tap’s Valley Voices have given the thumbs up to the bid Reading Borough Council has put together for city status.

The council published its intended bid last week which will go before a full council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday). It seeks to emphasis the town’s regional leadership, history, future vision, royal connections, connectivity, international outlook, diversity, plans for levelling up, climate leadership, culture and festivals and events.

Our partners backed the council although the process came under question.

Phil Brown, head of Savills Reading, said: “The borough council’s bid is excellent and if city status is awarded, Reading’s plans for recovery, regeneration and tackling inequality will benefit from the opportunities that city status is likely to create.

“Does Reading deserve to be a city? I very much think that it does and would like to congratulate the bid team on a very well-prepared submission and thank them for their hard work, dedication and passion for Reading, which shines through the bid.”

Mike Shearn, chief operating officer for Haslams estate agent, said: “Why Reading is not a city already is a complete mystery to me.

“It ticks every box in terms of population, employment, transport, leisure, education, and it even has an abbey: albeit it’s seen better days!

“It could be argued that city status is just a badge and from a locals’ perspective. There could be some truth in that although, if nothing else, it would give people a little more pride in the place they call home.

“However, it is important and valuable for those people that don’t know Reading. Think of all those employers and investors making decisions on potential locations for new HQs. If city status gets Reading on their radars and gives it an edge, then why wouldn’t we want it?”

Karen Jones, partner and head of planning & environmental law, at Blandy & Blandy Solicitors, said: “A bit like trying to score a goal without knowing where the goal posts are!

“I find it difficult to believe there are no specific criteria to satisfy for city status in each ‘competition’ held, only a hint of what might be needed in the application form itself.

“As a lawyer governed by strong principles of fairness and justice, this seems a bit arbitrary but the fact that Reading is once again bidding for city status is welcomed as it is an accolade this town should have for its cultural offering, its forward thinking and its thriving community.”

David Jones, managing director of property and planning consultancy Evans Jones, said: “So, why seek city status?  For me, it’s all about reputational change, enabling the ‘city’ to attract increased investment and employment opportunities, providing enhanced opportunities to help businesses, together with enhanced autonomy in decision making.

“City status helps to define a ‘place’. If we liken it to business growth, it is like a limited  company progressing to float and become a listed company.

“If granted a city charter, it will contribute to the levelling up agenda, making Reading the real powerhouse of the Thames Valley.  I wish Reading every success in its current bid.” 

DevComms director Charles Bushe said: “Having been born in Royal Berks and spent much of my life in Reading, it has always seemed an anomaly to me that the de facto capital of the Thames Valley is not recognised as a city.

“Despite the lack of definitive criteria, Reading clearly ticks many boxes. It is a regional hub that attracts substantial inward investment, is home to a prestigious university and hosts one of the busiest railway stations outside of London.

“For many years Reading has been a net inward destination for commuters, with its own economic ecosystem that is distinct, but connected  to that of London, and intrinsically linked to many towns and villages across the Thames Valley.

“Reading certainly has the credentials to be a city and formal recognition of this status feels like it should just be a formality.

“But with the current Government’s national levelling up agenda and the political pivot towards the red wall, it certainly makes you wonder whether Labour-held Reading Borough Council will be a recipient of the title this time around or whether they will in fact have to wait a little longer.”

The Government has said that as part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations, a select number of towns and cities can compete for city status or Lord Mayor status (or Lord Provost in Scotland).  

Swindon has withdrawn its bid through a lack of local support.

© Thames Tap (powered by

Sign up to receive your free weekly Thames Tap newsletter here.