There’s always a strange mix of views whenever the city status debate come up in Reading.
Some argue it should always have been granted long ago while others are irritated by the continual time, effort and money spent trying to get it.
But after four attempts over 20-odd years, with increasingly bizarre towns getting the honour ahead of Reading, perhaps the council should run an online poll next time to ask if the public still care before any further attempts are made.
In a rare moment of the corporate media talking to real people last week, ITV interviewed locals in some of the winning towns who, far from celebrating, didn’t even want city status.
And before this latest round was fully under way, Swindon Borough Council pulled out because the locals were not interested. That may become a more dominant theme in future as people have more pressing matters on their minds.
The decisions seem to be made by figures in the Civil Service who, thanks to their anonymity, could, for all we know, have all manner of prejudices and biases. But if they carry on awarding city status to obscure market towns where the residents don’t even want it, they will eventually make it meaningless.
As many of our panel have said, if the town has got this far without it, is it really necessary?
The Natural History Museum’s arrival at Thames Valley Science Park appears likely to add prestige and value to the site, already boasting the glamour of Shinfield Studios.
While it seems a welcome addition, the size of the development (no square footage was available) seems to be equivalent to three football pitches. Along with the British Museum’s new storage facility and the studios, it would suggest land for the proposed new site for the Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) is looking increasingly limited.
With the possibility of the hospital using land at Green Park a remote one, due to AWE Burghfield’s expanded Detailed Emergency Planning Zone, there may not be sufficient land for a suitably-sized new RBH.
If that proves to be the case, it really makes the point for a review of the Green Belt.
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