Priti Patel: Making Southend a city would be a fitting tribute to Sir David Amess

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As a local MP, Sir David Amess was the most high-profile champion for Southend’s designation as a city and had been raising the case since 2000 - John Keeble
As a local MP, Sir David Amess was the most high-profile champion for Southend’s designation as a city and had been raising the case since 2000 - John Keeble

The Home Secretary and House of Commons Speaker have backed the growing campaign for Southend-on-Sea to be made a city in honour of Sir David Amess.

Priti Patel suggested it would be a "wonderful" tribute to the local MP to fulfil one of his longest-running campaigns, while Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it would be the “biggest and greatest thing we can do for David”.

Southend is one of several towns competing for city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022.

As a local MP, Sir David was the most high-profile champion for Southend’s designation as a city and had been raising the case since 2000.

Asked about the campaign on Sunday, Ms Patel said: “I’m smiling at that suggestion, because David was a wonderful advocate.

“People will decide about that but... one of the last [parliamentary] questions he put forward was exactly about that. It would be a wonderful tribute to my dear friend David.”

Echoing her comments, Sir Lindsay said: “I would love to see Southend becoming a city, I think that’s the biggest and greatest thing we can do for David.”

Priti Patel and Sir Lindasy Hoyle had joined Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer to lay floral tributes at the murder scene on Saturday - Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street
Priti Patel and Sir Lindasy Hoyle had joined Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer to lay floral tributes at the murder scene on Saturday - Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street

Robert Buckland, the former justice secretary, added: “I think it would be a fitting tribute to David. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Southend marked in that way as a tribute to a dedicated public servant who literally gave his life in public service?"

The Queen is set to designate new cities in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee next year. Applicants are required to demonstrate that their heritage, civic pride and record of innovation makes them worthy of becoming a city.

Praised for his dedication to his constituents of Southend West, Sir David raised the case for upgrading Southend’s status at every opportunity and even secured an adjournment debate on the subject in the Commons in December 2019.

After the most recent Cabinet reshuffle in September, Sir David joked to the House that he was left disappointed not to be made "minister with responsibility for granting city status to Southend".

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