Coleraine fail in second city bid

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COLERAINE has lot out on a second bid to become a city to a tiny and obscure town in Wales.

Few people outside of Wales have probably never heard of St Asaph, but last week it became one of Britain’s newest and smallest cities.

The news, which broke on Wednesday, is a big disappointment for Coleraine after it was overlooked for the coveted status to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

While Coleraine missed out, three other towns across the UK — Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph — were awarded the status. Armagh city was awarded Lord Mayoralty status.

It’s the second time that Coleraine has had a failed city bid. Back in 2000 the town lost out to Lisburn and Newry.

DUP councillor Mark Fielding admitted that it was disappointing for Coleraine.

“We will still celebrate the Diamond Jubilee as enthusiastically as any other part of the UK,” he said. “Coleraine is a university town and the capital of the Causeway coast, we put in a good bid and no town in Northern Ireland was recognised.”

UUP councillor Norman Hillis said: “There is always tomorrow as far as I am concerned.

“With such a limited number of cities announced it was a long shot.

“Last time it was Newry and Lisburn and we thought with our stark connection being one of the first settlements in Ireland, we would have a chance.

“We also have a university and we are a historical town.

“We feel we have lost out and are a little disappointed but not entirely surprised.”

Alliance’s Bernard Fitzpatrick said: “We are deeply disappointed — we should have got it.

“We now have 60,000 people in the town, but we will survive.”

How the towns compare

Population

St Asaph: 3,491 in 2001

Coleraine: 24,042 in 2001

Main attractions

St Asaph: A sixth century cathedral six miles from the well-known seaside town Rhyl.

Coleraine: The main town of the world famous Giant’s Causeway, which attracts more than two million visitors per year.

University of Ulster campus and Riverside Theatre.

Close to the spectacular north Antrim coast, championship golf courses, the River Bann. Has a leisure centre and cinema.

Shopping

St Asaph: 21 premises

Coleraine: Has 29 shops in the Diamond Centre alone.

Notable people

St Asaph: Former Wales football captain Ian Rush, the late composer William Mathias, best known for writing a hymn for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding, Wales’s first archbishop Alfred George Edwards, female professional golfer Becky Brewerton and Lisa Scott-Lee, vocalist with pop act Steps.

Coleraine: Actor James Nesbitt, Ireland rugby star Andrew Trimble, Olympic rower Alan Campbell, former prime minister Andrew Bonar Law, British ladies’ figure skating champion Jenna McCorkell, award-winning journalist Speedy Moore, Jayne Wisener, star of Sweeney Todd and Six Degrees.

Football

St Asaph: St Asaph FC, who play in the Vale of Clwyd and Conwy Premier League. Their ground Roe Plas Meadows is a local park, with no stands or seating areas, and is where the local council use a committee room to stage their monthly meetings.

Coleraine: Coleraine FC, one of the most successful clubs outside Belfast. Winners of the Irish League title once (in 1973–74) and the Irish Cup on five occasions, most recently in 2002–03. It is also the only Irish League club to have won two successive all-Ireland competitions, lifting the Blaxnit Cup in 1969 and 1970.

Events

St Asaph: The North Wales International Music Festival, Gala Day in August, Woodfest Wales crafts festival.

Coleraine: North West 200 motorcycle road races, Northern Ireland Milk Cup youth football competition, Irish Open, Air Show.