Dorchester City? Our readers have their say

People shop on the busy high street of Dorcehster

Dorchester High Street - Credit: quisnovus, Flickr

As celebrations are prepared for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, councillors for Dorchester have announced their bid for city status.

It's not every day a monarch celebrates seven decades of rule. In fact, it's only happened three times in recorded history with her majesty continuing to hold the title of world's longest-reigning living monarch. As preparations for the platinum jubilee begin to ramp up, there are plenty of celebrations in the works across the nation.

One such event is a Civic Honours competition where towns can bid and compete to gain city status. Such a situation has not occurred since 2012 when Chelmsford, Perth, Armagh, and St Asaph were recognised as cities for the Diamond Jubilee. That year, Bournemouth also bid for the title change but lost out regardless of being the public favourite

For 2022, towns such as Swindon, Medway, and Reading have all announced their entry to the competition. In our own county, Dorchester has thrown its hat into the ring with hope that recent development projects will tip them into prime spot. Speaking to the BBC, Councillor Stella Jones said: "Ten or eleven years ago we were not thought good enough, but we've got bigger and better since then… it would be good for tourism if we had city status."

We asked our readers what they thought of the announcement with some surprising answers from locals and those who feel passionately about the county town.

Dorchester High Street. Photo by www.dorsetforyou.com

Dorchester High Street. Photo by www.dorsetforyou.com - Credit: Archant

The Results

More than 100 people gave us their opinion on the city status bid with a resounding negative view of the potential change. In fact, more than 95% of the voters felt that the city status would have either a negative impact or none at all.

The greatest sentiment amongst the nays was that the money would be better spent revitalising the town by increasing infrastructure and incentivising shops to move there. 

"Dorchester is not a city!" commented Helen Heger, "We don’t need city status or all the problems further urbanisation brings with it. Any money should be spent on local projects and not 'prestige' for no benefit to the local community."

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Philip Peacock stated: "I've recently returned to live in Dorchester again after an absence of 20 years. The community seems strong but poorly supported by infrastructure controlled by the council. Where is the theatre? Why are arts/culture less well represented here than in much smaller Bridport? Why is the retail declining when other places seem to be able to thrive with independent stores... City status is not the priority - getting Dorchester back on track as a county town is."

The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester - photo by Edward Griffiths

The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester - photo by Edward Griffiths - Credit: Archant

Many were also confused as to what the status change would bring to the town. Tina Batori asked: "My family is native to Dorchester, so I have a very fond spot in my heart for it. However, what's the difference between being a town and being a City? Does it hold any perks these days?" 

Steve Ph agreed and wondered what we could do instead. "Why do we need to create a city to celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee? Surely we should be celebrating things that reflect her longevity. Let’s celebrate Dorchester as a traditional English County market town. Much more relevant than meaningless name giving."

The newly refurbished King's Arms in Dorchester

The newly refurbished King's Arms in Dorchester - Credit: Archant

But not everyone felt negatively about the bid, hoping that there would perhaps be some positive outcomes in the long run. “If it encourages new businesses to develop then it could be a good idea," said Sandy Weatherburn. "I would like to see it become more of a smart city, using lots more technology to upgrade the experience of living here!” 

Christopher Simon Charles Juett agreed. “If there is concern about declining shops and businesses then a city status could help improve that... As for small towns not being cities, there are many examples of this occurring quite successfully."

Only time will tell whether our county town will soon become the county city. Each contender will have until December, 2021 to state their case, at which point ministers will recommend the best applicants to the Queen herself. It is presumed that another four towns will be selected - one for each region - in keeping with previous years. Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, is looking forward to the competition. "As we look forward to a year of celebration, growth and renewal in 2022, this prestigious competition will inspire civic pride in communities right across the UK."

What do you think? Head over to our Facebook Page or Twitter and let us know if you would like to see Dorchester City on the sign. Thank you to everyone who shared their views with us.