MPs said giving Southend town status would be a “fitting memorial” to its late local MP Sir David Amess who was assassinated yesterday.
The 69-year-old saw it as one of his goals in politics and lobbied for 21 years to make this a reality.
There now appears to be cross-party support for the resort town of Essex to be re-designated as town when the winning nominations are selected as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
Sir David spoke about it on Thursday, the day before he died after being stabbed multiple times during constituency surgery at a church.
He said he was in Qatar on Wednesday and discussed Southend’s candidacy with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
He told BBC Radio Essex: “I hope Qatar supports him. I know the majority of Southend people would welcome a Qatari investment in Southend.”
Sir David added: “If the House of Commons wants to silence me like the city wears it, they have to give it to us.” Because I spent all of my time mentioning it on every conceivable occasion.
“It’s obvious, the benefits are enormous. We involve the local residents with the situation, we have some great events planned and we have a wonderful team of people putting together our offer, so I’m really excited about the prospect.
“It could absolutely turn things around in Southend and spark civic pride.”
His neighbor, Tory MP James Duddridge, who represents Rochford and Southend East, is also behind the plan.
He said: “A successful bid would energize our economy and bring new investment, putting Southend firmly on the map, both across the country and around the world.”
Kingswood Tory MP Chris Skidmore said Sir David would “constantly harass me” over Southend’s city status.
Mr Skidmore said: ‘He once told me that it was his one big ambition in Parliament that he would one day see Southend become a town.
“It became a running joke every time he brought it up, but he was passionately serious about making it happen.”
He added: “Tragically, he will never see this moment happen, but it would be a fitting memorial for a man who dedicated his life and ultimately gave it to his community.”
Warrington North Labor MP Charlotte Nichols said: “Absolutely; I can’t think of a better way to honor his memory.
Councils were asked to throw their town’s hat into the ring for town status, with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council known to be interested.
Reading, Newport in the Isle of Wight, Boston in Lincolnshire, Dudley in the West Midlands, Medway in Kent, Wrexham in Wales and Middlesbrough are also considered enthusiastic.
Town status was awarded in 2012 for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Chelmsford, another town in Essex, as well as Perth in Scotland and Little St Asaph in Wales.
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