Countrywide 'town tour' launches in city of Wolverhampton

Written by on January 9, 2020

There is confusion over when a town is a town after the government launched a promotional “countrywide town tour” in the city of Wolverhampton.

The city’s mayor said the government needed to “catch up” to the fact Wolverhampton was made a city in 2000.

The government was promoting a £3.6bn towns fund.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who was born in Wolverhampton, said smaller cities would still be eligible for the money.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government described the mayor’s stance as a “silly criticism” because Wolverhampton was one of the 100 areas to benefit from the towns fund, while the town of the year competition is part of a “broad package of support for communities across the country”.

But Mr Jenrick came under fire from the mayor of Wolverhampton, Claire Darke, for launching the “town tour” in a city.

“We have been a city for 19 years and they need to catch up,” she said. “Are they that out of touch that they did not bother to look it up?

“My concern would be that this competition is politically motivated and that they are doing it because there is a tough fight next year to vote for regional mayor for the West Midlands and they are trying to attract support.”

Pat McFadden, the MP for Wolverhampton South East, added: “It’s embarrassing for the ministers they didn’t realise Wolverhampton is a city and not a town.”

Mr Jenrick, who is MP for the town of Newark, Nottinghamshire, said eligibility for the town fund is “not as crude as whether one is a city or a town.”

“For our towns fund, we set the criteria based on population size and that does enable a smaller city like Wolverhampton to benefit,” he said.

Mr Jenrick said the government was making an immediate start to serve local communities and deliver “real change” through the fund.

He said the town of the year competition, to be launched later this year, aims to celebrate achievements in entrepreneurship, technology, community, enterprise and integration.

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