Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have joined a campaign to make Southend-on-Sea a city, in honour of the local MP Sir David Amess who was fatally stabbed on Friday.
Southend is one of several towns competing for city status as part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations in 2022. Amess championed Southend’s case for city designation for more than two decades, mentioning it almost every week in parliament in recent years.
“I’ve spent all my time mentioning it at every conceivable opportunity … if they want to shut me up … then they should grant us city status,” he told BBC Essex the day before his death.
Since Friday many MPs have publicly voiced their support for Southend’s bid as a tribute to Amess’s 38-year-career in public service.
“So with the jubilee next year, let’s give Southend city status and see Sir David’s final ambition realised,” the Conservative MP Chris Skidmore tweeted on Saturday.
Speaking to Times Radio, the home secretary, Priti Patel, said it would be a “wonderful tribute to my dear friend David”.
Labour’s Charlotte Nichols said: “I can’t think of a better way to honour his memory.
James Courtenay, a Conservative councillor in Southend borough council, told the BBC on Sunday: “It would be a very fitting tribute to Sir David, particularly as it was something he had campaigned for, for a long time.
On Saturday a petition was launched in support of Southend’s bid. Within the space of 24 hours it had almost reached its target of 1,500 signatures.
Southend-on-Sea is home to over 180,000 people, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics. If its bid is successful next year, it will become the second city in Essex alongside Chelmsford, which was awarded city status as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations in 2012.