Join the news democracyWhere your votes decide the Top 100
There’s been a lot of talk about towns recently.
This is partly thanks to Lisa Nandy, the Wigan MP who’s launched a leadership campaign and has become famous for her impassioned defence of the humble town.
So much so that there’s an entire swathe of Nandy-inspired town memes, and a Twitter account called Lisa Nandy Memes for Town Loving Teens.
@lizanundy https://t.co/HyG1wUvWOs — Leo Levontine (@Leo Levontine)
fight me https://t.co/ScqnTQXKdR — 🥰 (@🥰)
Plus, much of the post-election analysis has focused on the lost “Labour heartlands”, many of which comprise of – you guessed it! – small towns.
So you’d think the heightened attention might make the government organisers of Town of the Year, a competition dedicated to… towns, more careful of any potential pitfalls.
Wolverhampton is my hometown; I clearly remember it being made a city back in 2000. It's utterly daft that the orga… https://t.co/7u9Us67OQy — Dan Elphick is working to contract (@Dan Elphick is working to contract)
The contest is opening later this year, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick is embarking on a trek around British towns to launch the initiative.
A spokesperson also later said Jenrick had toured Wolverhampton’s “town centre”.
This is all obviously quite embarrassing. What makes it more confusing is that Jenrick himself is from Wolverhampton and last year described it as a “city,” in an interview.
In an interview with Sky News this morning about the gaffe, he again confirmed that he knew Wolverhampton was a city – but also added that the towns fund was open to small cities as well.
Robert Jenrick getting into a proper mare on Sky News after launching the Towns Fund in... a city. "The criteria fo… https://t.co/mPqdnKYvuC — Dan Bloom (@Dan Bloom)
The painful moment Robert Jenrick tries to defend launching towns initiative in the city of Wolverhampton - where h… https://t.co/t6bfZD5olm — Albert Evans (@Albert Evans)
So why is it called the ‘town’ fund?
Although there is set criteria that defines when a UK town can become a city (minimum population of 300,000; record of ‘good’ local government and “local metropolitan character”), that’s still sometimes not enough for a place to level up.
Wolverhampton, for example, got its city status as one of three new 'Millennium' cities, but had been lobbying for it since 1953.
Compare that to Croydon, which has a population bigger than Leicester or Coventry and has been applying to be recognised as a city since 1951 – but keeps getting denied.
At least it can apply for Town of the Year. Oh wait... so can cities.
More: 'Megxit' is already the word of the year and the jokes are incredible
More: Barry Gardiner’s Labour potential leadership campaign got off to an incredibly chaotic start