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Gateshead submits bid for city status

26th May 2011

Categories: Latest News

Gateshead has formally submitted its bid to realise its long-held ambition to become a city.

The Council’s 22-page formal bid document was set on its journey to the Cabinet Office in Whitehall today (26 May, 2011) ahead of Friday’s deadline for submissions. The competition to create a new city was announced by the Government as part of next year’s celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Leader of the Council Mick Henry, supported by local school children and a whole panoply of famous Gateshead residents both past and present, gave the formal bid document a hearty send-off on one of Gateshead’s most popular and familiar icons, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Amongst the famous people associated with Gateshead who posed for photographs and helped the bid document on its way were engraver Thomas Bewick, 18th century author Daniel Defoe,  inventor Joseph Swan, the sculptor Anthony Gormley, William Booth who founded the Salvation Army, Sir John Hall and Baroness Joyce Quin – or at least, life-sized illustrations of them!

Councillor Mick Henry said: “Gateshead is an ambitious and forward-looking place and in these difficult economic times it’s entirely appropriate that we look to the future and set ourselves a major and inspiring goal.

“Seventy-five years ago, the great depression of the 1930s saw the creation of Team Valley Trading Estate, Britain’s first purpose-built industrial and trading centre. Then, 50 years later, Europe’s largest shopping and leisure complex, the Metrocentre, was created here in the 1980s. Now we are again responding to challenge in a positive way.

“Gateshead is a place I am intensely proud of – we have fantastic assets, a remarkable history and we believe we are a city in all but name.

He added: “We want everyone to be a part of this bid – that’s why we are uploading our entire bid document to the Gateshead Council website. We want local people to read it, share it and thereby become ambassadors for our bid. With their help and support, I know we stand an excellent chance of being chosen as Britain’s newest city.”

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Over the last decade Gateshead  has established itself at the forefront of cultural regeneration. Having pushed the boundaries with visionary cultural projects, Gateshead’s success stories are replayed as ‘best practice’ around the world and every city in the UK now wants its own iconic Angel; Gateshead has surely earned its right to the kudos associated with city status.

“With a spectacular quayside area, beautiful rural attractions, world-class cultural venues and continued aspirations to develop further in the future – including exciting proposals for an International Conference and Exhibition Centre on Gateshead Quays – Gateshead has a great deal to offer residents and visitors alike. 

“The NewcastleGateshead destination that we promote today could not offer such a compelling package to visitors without the strength of Gateshead’s attractions. We often refer to the ‘twin cities’ of Newcastle and Gateshead in our marketing work and it would be a fitting tribute to finally make this title official.”

It’s a common misconception that towns must have a cathedral before they can be considered for city status. This has not been the case for over a century and Gateshead’s city credentials are very strong.

One of the main arguments in Gateshead’s case for city status is that it is already regarded as a city throughout the world as a result of its major cultural developments - The Angel of the North, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage Gateshead, each of them a multi-award winning icon for the region major tourist attractions in their own right. Almost eight million visitors come to Gateshead each year, spending over £475m.

While being named a city does not bring any extra legal rights, it does confer significant prestige and ultimately leads to increased investment in an area.

The bid document will be delivered to the Cabinet Office in Whitehall on Friday 27 May 2011.

To view the bid document in full, go to


“Gateshead Council are without doubt one of the most entrepreneurial, forward-thinking, caring and ambitious councils I have met. I refer to them in talks I give as my Number One Municipal Entrepreneur”.

Sir John Hall

“No other place in Britain has done quite so much to transform its public spaces and to think about quality of life. No other place has shown such vision and bravery. No other British place has transformed its status in such a dramatic fashion as Gateshead”.

Wayne Hemingway MBE

“The transformation of Gateshead over the two decades I've been living in the North East has been remarkable, and it has a worldwide reputation for both sport and culture. In my view, it is fully deserving of City status and I fully support the attempts to make it so... “

Jonathan Edwards CBE

“Gateshead has been at the heart of the regeneration in the north east over the last twenty years because of the Council’s bold vision and entrepreneurial style, along with their determination and imagination, which has already put them on the international map.  Gateshead has a reputation for hosting world-class major sporting and cultural events, including the Great North Run and has first class facilities to coach and train future athletes.”

Brendan Foster CBE




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