DUMFRIES is one step closer to becoming a city.
On Thursday councillors overwhelmingly backed entering the Queen’s 2022 Civic Honours competition, which forms part of her Platinum Jubilee.
The bid comes at no financial cost to the council and must be submitted by December 8.
Ahead of that deadline, a City Status Group will be set-up by Dumfries and Galloway Council to work on the application.
Although all but one councillor voted in favour of pushing ahead with the plans, scepticism was voiced about how city status for Dumfries would benefit the rest of the region.
Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson described his support as “lukewarm”, adding: “I do have reservations but at the same time I do think this could be an opportunity.”
Calling for cross-party support for the bid, Provost Tracey Little said going for city status was a “no brainer”.
She added: “We have to be ambitious and look to the future for our young people as well. We could have increased investment, higher profile, more tourist pounds, inward migration, city destination – all of these are massive positives for our region.”
Lochar Councillor Ivor Hyslop urged the council to reflect on failures made by past administrations who unsuccessfully entered Civic Honours competitions.
He said: “Why have we failed in the past? We have entered once or twice before and we’ve never got it over the line. Should we be looking at previous applications to see how much work they put in to actually achieve city status?
“How are we going to make sure the whole region does benefit from it? I think we should back it, but are we doing justice by doing it from a shoestring?”
Depute leader Rob Davidson stressed city status would be an “excellent opportunity” to showcase all of Dumfries and Galloway’s offerings.
He added: “I’m very happy to support this, I think it is ambitious and I think it’s right that we’re ambitious for Dumfries and Galloway.”
And council leader Elaine Murray said that Dumfries becoming a city would make a strong case for “improved connectivity” in the region, citing the long-running campaign to have the A75 dualled all the way from Gretna to Stranraer.
Meanwhile, Castle Douglas Councillor David James, the only member present at the meeting to formally object, said the bid “lacks vision” and is being driven by “a need to conform”.
He added: “It’s about being all things to all people, bereft of imagination, and it seems to me that we’re sort of reacting to a perceived problem about Dumfries struggling.
“Bradford is a city, I don’t think people are going to Bradford because it is one, but they are one and it’s probably trying to tick those boxes; what do we not have? Let’s have some more of that rather thinking about what we’ve actually got.”