Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council is to launch a bid to bestow city status on Coleraine.
County Derry could be on the way to adding a second city to its roster after a local council confirmed it would be seeking the status for one of its towns.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council confirmed it would be bidding for city status for Coleraine after taking a vote on the issue at tonight's full council meeting.
The item had previously been discussed at a meeting of the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee, but councillors had deferred the decision to full council.
Cllr Darryl Wilson
"I'll grasp the nettle," said Cllr Darryl Wilson as he opened the debate.
"I had assumed that for somewhere to apply for city status, it needed to be a sprawling metropolis with a university and a cathedral and everything absolutely perfect.
"When I started to research I found a number of places that have had city status bestowed were small to medium-sized towns, one of which had 1,600 inhabitants.
"I think we should be aiming high and aspiring for better. When places are granted city status, there is a buzz that surrounds it which adds an extra element to the area."
Cllr Wilson was then interrupted by DUP councillor Adrian McQuillan, who suggested he may be electioneering, a claim Cllr Wilson rejected.
"It's nothing to do with an election," he said.
"We don't need any back-chat, we're in council, and some of us at least are aspiring to make the place better instead of making jibes and comments from the sidelines.
"It's our job as elected representatives to improve all the areas in this Borough. There are plenty of fence kickers and nay sayers, but I think we should be aspiring for better."
Cllr William McCandless
Independent councillor for Coleraine, William McCandless, said the bid was about the community's vision for the town, rather than its current state.
"City status is a mark of prestige and pride for its citizens," he said.
"This is about vision, about where we see ourselves, not just now. This dovetails in with so many other projects and aspirations we have.
"We have a rich history; we are the cradle of civilisation in Ireland with evidence of mesolithic man at the Mountsandel site. This is about vision and hope. Is there any other town more deserving in Northern Ireland? I don't think so."
The meeting then discussed the possibility of the entire Borough seeking city status. A council official said this would be possible, and mooted Causeway Coast and Glens City Council as a possible re-naming option.
After the cost of the bid was confirmed to be £1,500, PUP councillor Russell Watton said he was 'open-minded' about the bid.
"I wasn't too sure last week. I wanted to know if it would bring any benefit to the town," he said.
"Would it alleviate the absolutely dire social housing situation? If I thought there was any chance of it making a difference to us, I'd be well for it."
Council took a five-minute recess to allow councillors to discuss the issue among themselves, before returning to the chamber.
Cllr George Duddy
DUP councillor George Duddy confirmed his party would support the bid, and hoped it would come with a revamped transport system for Coleraine.
"The vision of city status being bestowed upon Coleraine and the aspirations we're building up by applying for this, I hope they come to fruition," he told the meeting.
"Every town centre at this moment is suffering, but if we are successful, one would hope the traffic system in and around Coleraine becomes more than what was described here two months ago.
"DfI (Department for Infrastructure) said if Coleraine ever bid for city status, we would hope that the 'one-horse town' traffic system would be greatly improved.
"If we are successful, we have to ensure all the funding we can get goes into the largest town, but we need to ensure our smaller towns and villages do not suffer as as consequence."
After the disuccsion ended, the council voted on the motion to bid for city status.
25 councillors voted for the proposal and one against, while eight councillors, including all Sinn Féin representatives, abstained from the vote.
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