MPs from across Essex have backed Colchester’s bid for city status after a formal letter was submitted to the government’s cabinet office.

Will Quince, the Conservative MP for Colchester, has brought together 17 members of parliament from across the county to boost the bid, which faces competition from 38 other British towns. 

The government's cabinet office is co-ordinating and judging the process, with the winners to be formally awarded city status by the Queen on the advice of government ministers in June.

Gazette: There are 39 towns vying to become an official city later this yearThere are 39 towns vying to become an official city later this year

The naming of a new city is part of a jubilee tradition, with Chelmsford officially named a city as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and no less than five towns becoming official cities as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.

MPs who have voiced their support for Colchester to become a city include Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, Rt Hon Priti Patel, MP for Witham, Rt Hon James Cleverly, MP for Braintree, and Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford.

As part of the letter signed by 17 Essex MPs, Colchester is described as “a regional powerhouse for culture and tourism.”

The letter read: “The community has a proud centuries-long tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and, to this day, it does so as a borough of sanctuary, recently welcoming refugees from Syria and Afghanistan.

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“City status will not only benefit Colchester but the wider Essex region and UK economy overall.

“Essex is the engine of the UK economy and together we want to celebrate all that we have and all that we wish to achieve for future generations in our proud region.”

Councillor Darius Laws, portfolio holder for economy, business and heritage, said a successful bid would benefit Colchester.

He said: “As Britain’s first city we firmly believe we have all the ingredients to be Britain’s next city.

“We see this as not only recognising our history, traditions, and achievements, but also the opportunities to continue to flourish and thrive.”

Gazette: It has become a tradition for a town to officially become a city during a jubilee yearIt has become a tradition for a town to officially become a city during a jubilee year

Other towns contesting the bid include Reading, Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Boston, and Medway.

Overseas territories are also eligible, with Stanley in the Falkland Islands having also applied for city status.