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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Ballymena ‘City of the Seven Towers’?

Ballymena could officially become the ‘City of the Seven Towers’ if a third bid for city status is successful, Mid and East Antrim councillors have been told.

The north Antrim town is to be nominated for city status by the borough council in the UK Government’s Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours competition.

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The nomination was proposed by Ballymena DUP councillor Alderman Audrey Wales and seconded by Braid TUV Councillor Brian Collins at a meeting of the local authority on Monday evening.

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As well as city status, an accompanying Lord Mayor title will also be awarded to winners of the national competition which is open to local authorities across the United Kingdom.

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

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In a letter to the borough council, Lord True CBE, a Conservative peer, said: “These honours are rare marks of distinction and the number of awards will depend on the strength of the applications received.”

This is the third time that Ballymena has been nominated for city status.

In 2002, Ballymena had been in the running alongside Carrickfergus, Coleraine and Craigavon before Lisburn and Newry were awarded the civic honour to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

Carrickfergus, also located in Mid and East Antrim, is County Antrim’s oldest town and the site of Carrck Castle, a medieval fortress but was not put forward at this week’s meeting.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Baron and Lady Carrickfergus titles were conferred on Prince William and his wife Catherine by Her Majesty on their marriage in 2011.

Commenting after the meeting, Carrick’s longest serving Mid and East Antrim councillor Alderman Billy Ashe said he did not think it was “appropriate” to nominate Carrickfergus.

In 2012,  just one UK town was to be granted city status to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Ballymena had been nominated on that occasion but was later withdrawn.

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