City status for Southend in honour of slain MP

Southend is to be granted city status in the wake of the killing of MP Sir David Amess.

Boris Johnson told the House of Commons today that Southend “will be accorded the city status it so clearly deserves.”

Sir David, MP for Southend West since 1997, who was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery on Leigh-on-Sea on Friday, was a relentless campaigner for the seaside town to become a city.

Downing Street said the very rare honour had been agreed with The Queen because of the exceptional circumstances.

Among those paying tribute to the MP for Southend West in the House on Monday were colleagues James Duddridge and Mark Francois.

Mr Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East remembered how Sir David often introduced him inappropriately at events, saying “this is James, he’s my neighbour, he’s just got out of prison”, while Mr Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, described him as his oldest and dearest friend in politics.

Reacting to the news, Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the Southend Council, said: “Following the tragic death of Sir David, we saw calls from across the country to grant Southend-on-Sea city status in honour of Sir David, who was a continuous driving force in Parliament and beyond pushing for the Borough to become a city. His unwavering commitment to achieve this was clear for all to see, and I think there is no greater way to honour Sir David and his family, than to make Southend-on-Sea a city. I hope this honour will help to bring the community together in this difficult time.

“As we await more news from the Government on this, we can reflect that his is a very special day for the Borough of Southend-on-Sea, and I hope his family is immensely proud of his hard work.”

The Worshipful The Mayor, Cllr Margaret Borton, said: “Hearing the announcement from the Prime Minister today is a sombre but special moment. For the Borough to achieve city status is testament to how loved and well-respected Sir David was.

“My only wish is that Sir David could have seen this moment himself, because it has brought years of his tireless campaigning to fruition. I hope that this announcement will highlight the legacy that Sir David leaves us.”

Cllr Tony Cox, leader of the Southend conservative group, says: “To hear the announcement today that Southend-on-Sea will be granted City Status was an emotional but incredible moment. Sir David, your legacy will forever live on in Southend-on-Sea.

“I cannot thank Her Majesty The Queen and the Prime Minister enough for granting that legacy but what truly breaks my heart is that he is not around to see it. I am sure he will be looking down on us now saying ‘my work in Southend is now complete’.”

Mick Ferris

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