Messages of support

A number of leaders, stakeholders and partners from Colchester have expressed their support of our bid for city status. 

Here are their messages:

"I am writing on behalf of the University of Essex to express our wholehearted support for Colchester’s bid to be granted city status. Colchester has a compelling case, and the impact will be significant for the county and region and will be an honour that will have global impact. The University of Essex has our original and largest campus located on the outskirts of Colchester."

"As we have flourished over the last 57 years, so has Colchester. Some of Colchester’s growth has been as a direct result of having a world class university, bearing the county’s name. But we have also benefitted from Colchester being famous for its history and being an attractive location for the ever-growing number of staff and students who choose the University of Essex as their home. The significant growth and development that Colchester has experienced has no doubt helped us to attract growing numbers of UK, European and International students to the University. Today we are home to around 17,000 students from more than 130 countries, with over 13,000 on our Colchester site. We are one of the most internationally diverse university campuses on the planet. We like to think of ourselves as the world in one place, and the University’s location in Colchester is part of what makes this possible."

"We have also been working tirelessly with businesses to further the economic growth and development of Colchester and the region. The University’s Knowledge Gateway research and technology park in Colchester continues to grow and is becoming the location of choice in the east for knowledge-based science, technology and digital creative companies. Drawing on the University’s global reputation for analytics and data science and outstanding support for SMEs, our vision has been to create more than 2,000 high-value jobs within 15 years."

"Following an initial £13m investment to build roads and infrastructure, today, our Parkside Office Village is an SME hotspot for companies seeing the benefits of being in Colchester and, co-located with the University’s £21m carbon-neutral Essex Business School and its Innovation Centre which opened in 2019, which provides the space and vital hands-on support to help start-ups and small businesses scale-up and succeed. Businesses are being attracted to the business park by the link to the University, but also in large part by the rapid growth in population, the quality of life and the rich cultural and educational opportunities in Colchester – in recent years backed by major regeneration efforts by Colchester City Council. The population of Colchester has grown quickly over the last 20 years and, from the most recent statistics available, Colchester is now the local authority with the largest population in the Essex County Council region, exceeding the population of Chelmsford, its closest city."

"In 2019, the University contributed £584 million to the UK economy, and in Colchester specifically, the University had an economic impact of £508 million, provided 2,290 jobs and indirectly supported a further 3,298 jobs; our students alone contributed £62 million to the economy. Having our largest campus located in the first capital of Roman Britain has always been a huge draw for our students and staff, whom we attract in large numbers from all over the world. They are not disappointed when they arrive and experience Colchester for themselves. It has, for many years now, given its size and range of facilities and attractions, really had the buzz of a city."

"Achieving city status will bring Colchester the visibility and recognition that it deserves regionally and globally and will help attract additional investment that will see it continue to grow and prosper and to achieve its full potential. I have no reservation whatsoever in expressing the University’s unreserved support for Colchester being granted city status as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee year." - 
Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex

"When the Romans arrived in Britain, Colchester was their first destination to create a garrison which became the ‘City of the Victorious’ and to this day our garrison proudly serves HM The Queen, our nation’s interests and helps Britain’s standing in the world. Our dynamic economy, nationally recognised award-winning cultural and heritage assets and internationally renowned University provide outstanding opportunities for all. Colchester has been on the map for over two thousand years and being awarded City status would be befitting of a status rightly deserved."Will Quince, MP

"I write in support of the formal application made by Colchester City Council for Colchester to be declared a city to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s 70th anniversary of becoming our Queen."

"Such a declaration would not so much make Colchester a “new city”, rather it would regulate the fact that almost 2,000 years ago Colchester became Britain’s first city and the first capital of Roman Britain. Ahead of the Millennium city declaration, when I was MP for Colchester, I enquired of the Home Office – who were in charge of the process on that occasion – who could remove the title of “city” once it had been granted? The answer was, only the Head of State. The Emperor Claudius was the Head of State in AD:49 when he made us a city. There is no evidence in the following 20 centuries to show that any subsequent Head of State removed the title of “city. Thus, I submit, Colchester should today be regarded as a city."

"All that is needed is for the city title to be regularised for the 21st century. A simple tidying up operation, with the Royal seal of approval. Many people assume that Colchester is already a city. Throughout my 50 years of public life serving Colchester in different capacities, in conversation with people from all parts of the United Kingdom (and from overseas) reference was frequently made about Colchester, in their eyes, being a city."

"In “levelling up” – a phrase much loved by the Government at the moment – I hope that the discrimination against England on previous occasions when new cities were declared in the four nations of the United Kingdom will not happen this time and that in respect of the size of the population of England, in contrast to that of the populations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there will be several declarations for England."

"Colchester, based on the city Council’s submission and what I have set out above – coupled with our track record of being one of only a handful of places to make applications each time during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth II when applications have been invited – deserves to be one of those so honoured this time." - 
Sir Bob Russell, High Steward of Colchester


"On behalf of Colchester Garrison, I am writing to offer my unequivocal support for the city status application being submitted by Colchester City Council. Outlined below is our testimonial."

"Colchester has full Garrison city credentials that are steeped in a rich martial 2,000-year history that continues to be made today with the basing of a garrison and the United Kingdom’s High Readiness Global Response Force based around 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team."

"Colchester became a recognisable garrison town around 1790 until 1820, during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Barracks were located where today there are houses in Barrack Street, Artillery Street and Cannon Street. After a gap of 35 years, Colchester once again became a garrison town – and has now had this status since 1855 with Crimean War era barracks built around the area known as Abbey Field. In 2005, these old barracks were replaced by the new ‘Super Garrison’ Merville Barracks which provides the base for upwards of 3,000 Service Personnel, 800 families, and employing nearly 700 Civil Servants and contractor staff."

"I can confidently say that Colchester ranks with our Service Personnel and their families as one of the best ‘lived’ experience postings. This is due to the close proximity and range of amenities it has, spousal and wider family employment opportunities, and especially the strong community support and relationships the Garrison and its people benefit from. Not unsurprisingly, at end of service, many of our veterans choose to settle in Colchester, a reflection of how they see it as home."

"The close relationship the Garrison has had for many years with the Town has been recognised by the granting of the Freedom of the city and include our Military Police company who work so closely with their counterparts in the Essex Police delivering community policing, and the Military Corrective Training Centre who are an exemplar of the Prison Inspectorate. Following their second tour of Afghanistan in 2008, with much pride 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team were granted their Freedom. This relationship was honed in 2019 on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem, by the signing of a Bond of Friendship between the Dutch District of Renkum and Colchester recognising each districts common relationships with the British Airborne Forces through shared remembrance, education of our youth, and social and cultural understanding."

"We are enormously proud that Colchester is one of only thirteen land-based stations, and the only one in East Anglia, granted the prestigious honour to fire Gun Salutes including on the occasion Her Majesty’s Birthday."

"It comes as no surprise to hear of Colchester City Council’s application for City status on the special occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. In my opinion Colchester has the profile and personality that warrants city status."

"I whole heartedly endorse this application for Colchester to take its rightful place as a City with a Garrison. There would be no better way to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and this grant with the annual firing of the Royal Gun Salute in the Castle Park to celebrate our Sovereign’s long and glorious reign and significant moment in the Nation’s history." - Lt Col E L Rankin, Colchester Garrison Commander


"As CEO of Community360, I wholeheartedly support Colchester City Council’s upcoming bid for Colchester’s status as a city."

"It is only fitting that the original first city in Britain regains this status. Our heritage alone would place us in the forefront of consideration, but Colchester is about so much more."

"While we proudly acknowledge our hugely rich and significant history, Colchester is also looking towards a distinguished future. The belief and investment in our town, allied with its favoured destination as a hub for new business, indicates a very bright tomorrow."

"Firstsite’s fantastic success in winning the Art Fund Museum of the Year award is testament enough to the pre-eminence of Colchester as a centre of cultural excellence, but its creative and passionate commitment to our community during the pandemic has been an example of what we do so well in this town. It chimes totally with the ethos of Community360, and I can say that Colchester is inclusive, is adventurous and is ready to take its place as a city." - Tracy Rudling, CEO of Community360


"One Colchester is the strategic partnership for Colchester and includes a range of statutory and non statutory partners sharing a single aim namely, to work towards a community in Colchester which is safe, prosperous and which fosters good levels of health and wellbeing for the benefit of all."

"As Chair of One Colchester I am delighted to support the bid for City Status."

"Colchester’s historic foundations as Britain’s first City and our ambition for our residents provides a great background to Colchester’s position as a fast growing, well-connected, creative and cultural centre which places high value on the quality of life of our resident., those that choose to work and play here and our ever growing number of very welcome visitors." - Pam Donnelly, Chair of One Colchester


"Every city has a rich heritage. Beautiful old buildings, characters from the past, stories, colour, the romance of yesteryear. But to be a real city you also need a vibrant now. A sense of excitement and pride in being the first, to take risks to invest in talent, to be brave. Colchester Arts Centre has repeatedly been in the forefront of promoting the best of emerging talent and new performance makers. Graham Norton, Harry Hill, Coldplay, Jo Brand, Eddi Izzard, The Libertines, Blur - all these played in the little church with the big attitude way before they were famous."

"Huge stars, that were once on our stage as nervous new upstarts. That is still happening today. Brilliant new bands, new comics, new choreographers, filmmakers – acts and artists only a few may have heard of, but all on a journey. Colchester offers history. But it also offers the now and the future. Through its people, its arts centre and its culture."
- Dr Anthony Roberts, Director of Colchester Arts Centre


"Colchester is the oldest recorded Roman town with a wealth of history, including a beautiful castle and gardens. Over the last few years it has grown significantly due to high levels of investment, offering a range of business and employment opportunities and also having excellent transport links across the city and to the Capital. Colchester is proud of its educational establishments which includes Essex University and Colchester Institute. We are also proud of our purple flag status."

"Across the city there are some incredibly strong partnerships, working together to provide excellent health and wellbeing services to support all of the community. Open Road as a registered Charity has been providing services to people with drug and alcohol problems and those in the criminal justice system for 30 years, to ensure that Colchester is a safer place to live and work. We were delighted to receive a visit from HRH The Duke of Gloucester recently to celebrate our anniversary and proving that there are strong royal links in the city. We work in partnership with the Police, clubs and pubs, the community safety partnership, the council and many more, to support the night time economy by providing our SOS bus service. This service provides medical cover on the bus, to reduce ambulance call outs and A&E admissions, and reduces the pressure on the Police, as well as supporting businesses and providing a safe and secure place for residents and visitors to enjoy an evening out in one of our many restaurants, pubs and clubs."

"Colchester truly deserves city status as one of the fastest growing towns; it’s investment in this growth; providing new opportunities for residents, which I fully support."
- Sarah Wright, Chief Executive of Open Road


"I am delighted to support Colchester’s application for city status. Having conducted research around Colchester and its community, it is very clear that Colchester’s cultural and historical heritage is highly valued by its residents. It is also very evident that Colchester is at the forefront of sustainable thinking through links, amongst others, with the University of Essex, which has its home in Colchester." - Dr Noelia-Sarah Reynolds, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Strategic Management at Essex Business School, The University of Essex


"On behalf of North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, I write in support of Colchester City Council’s application for Colchester Town to be awarded City status."

"Colchester has a rich history, with a 2000 year heritage, and is renowned for being Britain’s first city and Roman capital and, as such has been a cultural destination for many years. Whilst having this unique history, Colchester has the blended the old with the new, and has a successful University at his heart, which has seen it become one of the fastest growing towns in the country, with countless opportunities."

"Throughout history Colchester has had strong links with the military, which has helped forge strong royal links, and spotlighted the Town on many occasions; Colchester Garrison is currently home to the British Army’s 16th Air Assault Brigade. The above are just a few of the many attributes Colchester has to offer and, if awarded City status, the economic benefits this would undoubtedly bring, would be far reaching across the region." -
Ed Garratt, Chief Executive of NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group

"I am writing to state my support for Colchester’s bid for City status; both as a local resident and also in my role representing larger businesses on the We Are Colchester town deal board. I believe Colchester is hugely deserving of this prestigious award, and would take pride in the recognition it provides – recognition both of the rich and important history Colchester has within the UK, but also of the exciting and forward thinking plans for the future."

"It is widely known that Colchester has a unique history and culture dating back to when it was the Roman capital of Britain and the first city. However, it doesn’t just rely on history, as I have seen first-hand from my position on the town deal board that there is tremendous opportunity for such a fast growing town and a lot of hard work being put in across the different partnerships and networks that are forming, to secure the investments required to support the ambitious plans.  These plans are very future thinking and stretch way beyond the town deal planning horizon, covering areas such as digital connectivity, environmental sustainability, infrastructure, education, community and wellbeing; and the award of city status can only help increase confidence to secure even further inward investment to further transform these ambitions."

"Colchester being recognised as a city would be a huge sign of intent and set expectations for the future across a number of different sectors. We expect tourism could flourish, and the already strong higher education opportunities across the town (including the excellent and growing university facilities) to also further strengthen. All of this, combined with the existing investment and future thinking plans previously mentioned, is likely to attract businesses to the area, hopefully balancing the existing strong small business portfolio with some larger organisations; giving the area a much welcomed boost to the economy."

"Whilst clearly the award of city status on its own wouldn’t do all these things in isolation, I truly believe it would prove a real catalyst and is deserving recognition for all the commitment, pride and forward thinking improvements already in full flow across the town." - Chris Rhodes, Property Services Portfolio Manager, Hiscox


"Colchester has long been known nationally and internationally for its cultural and heritage assets; the original centre of the roman empire, a Norman castle, coastal communities and instantly recognisable classical rural settings. Colchester can genuinely claim to span the centuries with what it has to offer. City status seems a natural progression from the original Roman settlement."

"Colchester has been bold in its history and remains bold today. As one of the fastest growing towns in England its size and demography deserves a new status."

"The collective talents across the public, private and charitable sectors have always been here; particularly over the last 18 months. The whole community has come together to support its residents in the face of an international pandemic. This town cares and shows it cares – it can easily embrace this new status and become a caring, proud and ambitious city." - 
Steve Mannix, Executive Director, Mercury Theatre


"I am delighted to write on behalf of Destination Colchester CIC in support of Colchester's candidature for City Status as part of the celebrations to mark Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022."

"As the independent Destination Organisation for the area, we fully believe in Colchester. We are immensely proud of its culture and heritage, being of regional and national importance; and its historic resilience to misfortune in the form of sieges, plagues, massacres and even earthquakes; as well as the innovative and dynamic place that it is today."

"We are not alone in believing in Colchester and its significance. A critic recently wrote that Colchester "is a city worthy of an epic, like Troy". We don't know how Homer would relate Colchester's place in history, but it was here that the Emperor Claudius received tribute of eleven British kings after his triumphant arrival in AD43. The Emperor's belief was demonstrated by his award of Colonia, the highest status of Roman city, whose citizens enjoyed the largest classical temple, the most theatres and the only known chariot-racing circus in Britain, probably built for Hadrian."

"Just two years after Constantine adopted Christianity, one of the first three named British bishops who attended the Council of Arles came from the city Colonia, as Colchester was then known. Seven hundred years later, Colchester was one of only 17 places in England described as a civitas, or city, and in 1101 King Henry I made a grant to his steward, Eudo de Rie, of the "city of Colchester and tower and castle and all the rents" that had been held by Kings William I and William II before him."

"Colchester castle remained a Royal stronghold until 1629, before the twin catastrophes of the Siege of 1648 and the Great Plague of 1665, when nearly half the population died. But Colchester survives all its misfortunes with resilience, belief and pride. It rebuilt and grew over the next centuries, boosted by the establishment of its Garrison during the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars, now the home of 16th Air Assault Brigade, and the University of Essex in 1961."

"Diverse, individual and thriving; modern Colchester is hot-bed of creativity and hospitality. Its present strong sense of local pride is clearly evidenced by its commitment to and support of all four open competitions for City Status. No other place in Britain has shown more belief in itself through these competitions than Colchester, and no other place has a firmer foundation to justify the restoration of its historic status." - Simon Taylor, Destination Colchester CIC

Page last reviewed: 6 December 2021


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