Ballymena remains determined to achieve ‘deserved’ city status: mayor

Ballymena has not given up its quest for city status despite losing out to Bangor in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee competition, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim has said.

By Mark Rainey
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 5:34 pm

Councillor William McCaughey said everyone behind the Ballymena bid is “truly disappointed,” but said the town will be put forward again and will hopefully get the accolade it deserves.

“Congratulations to Bangor for gaining city status, but we are truly disappointed with regards to Ballymena not being the successful candidate,” he said.

“But we remain resolute that it will always be our aim to become a city. I think it is long overdue... but yes we are disappointed.

Seven Towers roundabout, Ballymena

“We have to be positive about it, but it is disappointing for us in Ballymena – especially for our officers and the work that was done behind the scenes to promote our town and bring it forward to be that city.

“Moving on to the next time, we will endeavour to be as positive as we can for Ballymena and finally get that city status that we believe we deserve, because we are a fantastic town.

“It would be a great prize for us.

“The public support we got when we started this campaign was unanimous. Everybody that was contacting us was very, very positive and thought this would fantastic for Ballymena.

“Yes, there were ones who thought ‘why is Ballymena going in for this?’ but, once we put our bid forward and our pitch together everybody fell in behind that.

“Famous people from the town were pushing Ballymena forward for that, and nobody could have done any more than was done and sometimes we do wonder how these decisions are made, but we have to live with that, and do our best to see if there is any other way that we can promote our town to get that city status.”

Milton Keynes, Colchester, and Doncaster in England, Dunfermline in Scotland and Wrexham in Wales all get the title.

One Overseas Territory – Stanley, in the Falklands – and crown dependency Douglas in the Isle of Man also gained city status.

Applicants must demonstrate a “distinct identity, civic pride, heritage, history and tradition and association with royalty.”

This is the third time that Ballymena has lot out, having previously submitted bids for the 2002 and 2012 competitions.

On Twitter, well-known Ballymena newsagent Eugene Diamond said: “I’m still bewildered how Bangor and even Lisburn became cities. Why have big towns like Ballymena and Coleraine been overlooked again there needs to be questions asked not of the Queen but of the people who make the decision.”

Speaking to the BBC back in November 2010, ahead of the 2012 competition, DUP MLA Paul Frew said city status “would mean a lot” for Ballymena.

“It would just give Ballymena that pinnacle of success that it really needs,” he said.

“And remember, we have been calling Ballymena a city for many, many years – the City of the Seven Towers – and I believe its retail and its industry deserves that status.”