MPs are calling for Southend-on-Sea to be given city status in honour of a 21-year campaign by Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who was brutally murdered in a suspected terror attack on Friday.
Since the year 2000, Sir David had relentlessly pushed for the Essex resort to be upgraded – most recently arguing that it would help attract some much-needed investment post-Brexit and Covid.
Now following his tragic death, colleagues from both sides of the aisle are demanding his wish be granted, arguing it would be a ‘fitting memorial’ for the 69 year old.
It comes as The Queen is set to designate new cities in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee next year, and local authorities have been putting forward their towns for city status since June.
Conservative MP for Kingswood Chris Skidmore said: ‘David would badger me constantly about making Southend a city.
‘Not only did we exchange many letters, had meetings, every time I saw him in the tea room or passed him in the corridor he would shout out “don’t forget to make Southend a City”. No opportunity was ever missed.
Since the year 2000, Sir David Amess (pictured) had relentlessly pushed for the Essex resort to be upgraded – most recently arguing that it would help attract some much-needed investment post-Brexit and Covid
Sir David pushed for his constituent town to become a city at every chance he could (Pictured: Sir David, third from left, at a Southend United football match in 2017)
MPs from both sides of the aisle agree making Southend a city would be a ‘fitting memorial’ for Sir David (pictured at a regatta in Leigh-on-Sea in 2019)
‘He told me once that it was his one great ambition left in Parliament that he would one day see Southend become a city.
‘It became a running joke every time he raised it, but he was passionately serious about making it happen.’
He added: ‘So with the jubilee next year, let’s give Southend city status and see Sir David’s final ambition realised.
‘Tragically he will never see that moment happen, but it would be a fitting memorial to a man who dedicated his life, and ultimately laid it down for his community.’
With a population of around 183,000, Southend is a large coastal town and is home to the longest pleasure pier in the world, Southend Pier, measuring 1.33 miles.
It also has London Southend Airport less than two miles north of the town centre.
Conservative MP for Lichfield Michael Fabricant said: ‘David campaigned for so many wonderful things, including animal welfare and to make Southend a city.
‘That would be a fitting memorial.’
Victoria Prentis, Tory MP for Banbury, added: ‘No one could have done more for his constituents. We all know that Southend should be a city.’
Replying to a tweet suggesting Southend be given city status, Charlotte Nichols, Labour MP for Warrington North, said: ‘Absolutely; I can’t think of a better way to honour his memory.’
In one of his latest campaign efforts, Sir David, a father of five, argued: ‘Our country and the whole of the world will need to rebuild itself and particularly in terms of the economy.
‘Southend becoming a city would be of enormous benefit in terms of attracting investment post-Brexit.
With a population of around 183,000, Southend is a large coastal town and is home to the longest pleasure pier in the world, Southend Pier, measuring 1.33 miles (pictured)
Making Southend-on-Sea (pictured) a city was one of Sir David’s main goals as a politician and he famously pushed for it at every moment he could
The Essex resort is a popular staycation resort and his the London Southend Airport less than two miles from its centre
‘There are many potential building projects and renovations that would fit perfectly into Southend becoming a city.
‘Our unique position lying along the magnificent Thames Estuary should be capitalised and made the most of.’
Making Southend-on-Sea a city was one of Sir David’s main goals as a politician and he famously pushed for it at every moment he could.
In March 2018, prime minister at the time Theresa May was being quizzed over Russia-UK relations following the recent Salisbury poisonings – but Sir David had other priorities.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, he asked Mrs May if she was aware that a charity for learning difficulties in his constituency had just broken the world record for dinging the most triangles – and whether or not she thought, as he did, that this was enough of a reason to make Southend-on-Sea a city.
At the Westminster Dog of Year contest this year, Sir David entered his French bulldog Vivienne.
Asked why she should win, he said: ‘Because she is an enthusiastic supporter of Southend becoming a city.’
Adding to the hundreds of people online calling for his wish to be granted, Tory MP for Colne Valley Jason McCartney said: ‘Loved sitting next to him on the back benches as he championed his constituency – let’s make Southend a City in his memory.’
The investigation into the murder of Sir David continues today as police quiz a 25-year-old Briton with Somali heritage, who was arrested at the scene of the killing.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to the veteran MP as the pair were pictured arriving at the scene of his brutal murder on Saturday morning.
Dressed in all black, the two leaders of Britain’s biggest political parties walked side-by-side with flowers in hand in poignant scenes as they approached the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.
They were joined by Home Secretary Priti Patel and speaker of the House of Commons and Labour MP for Chorley Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who were also carrying wreaths as all across the political spectrum unite in their grief.
Officers raided two properties in London as it emerged the suspect’s family came to the UK from Somalia in the 1990s.