DORSET’S historic county town of Dorchester has applied to become a city.

One town in England will gain city status to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year.

There can only be one winner in the City Status Competition and community leaders in the town believe Dorchester has got what it takes to scoop the first prize.

Town councillors’ unanimously agreed to enter a submission for Dorchester at a policy committee meeting held on Tuesday evening.

City status does not apply automatically on the basis of any particular criteria, although it was traditionally given to towns with diocesan cathedrals.

However in the 20th century it was recognised that city status in England and Wales would no longer be bound by the presence of a cathedral.

Town clerk Dennis Holmes, speaking at the meeting, said: “This is a real opportunity and Dorchester could put a strong case – we tick a lot of the boxes.”

He added that it would not cost any more to run Dorchester as a city than it does running it as a town.

Mr Holmes said the only additional expenditure would arise from modifying the signage in the town.

The town crier, Alistair Chisholm, said: “London, Paris, New York and Dorchester – it rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

“If it has got to be a place that has a long history then Dorchester certainly qualifies.

“Dorchester is growing and we have strong royal connections. If there is going to be a competition, I think we are certainly deserving of city status.”

Mayor of Dorchester Les Phillips, whose role would be elevated to Lord Mayor shoud Dorchester be successful, added: “I think it’s an excellent chance for Dorchester to really be put on the map.

“I think they will look favourably at what’s happening in Dorchester.”

Dorchester town, district and county councillor Trevor Jones added: “There’s nothing to lose from this and there’s a lot to gain.

“I am sure competition will be stiff but we must put our best foot forward.

“It’s a town with a great sense of identity and community spirit and I think we should put in a strong bid.”

The smallest city in the UK is currently St David’s in Wales with a population of 2,000 while Dorchester has a population of more than 17,500.

Any local authority in any part of the UK can enter the competition but guidelines suggest that places honoured should be ‘vibrant, welcoming communities with interesting histories and distinct identities’.

It is not clear how entries will be judged but the winner will be announced next year.