Watchdog disses City of Medway
Not a city, actually, says ASA
The Advertising Standards Authority has earned its keep by ruling on the critical matter of whether Medway can describe itself as a city.
The answer is: no it can't – which is a bit of a blow for Medway Council, which had been punting its delights as the "City of Medway".
That description popped up in a leaflet promoting "Historic Rochester and Maritime Chatham". On the front was a logo declaring: "City of Medway – rich heritage, great future."
This prompted no less than one person to complain that Medway had breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising) because "the claim 'City of Medway' could not be substantiated and was misleading, because Medway was not a city".
Medway Council defended that "the word 'city' was defined in the English dictionary as any large town", and since the unholy fusion of Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Rochester and Strood contained more than 253,000 souls, it was certainly big and "most consumers would understand the word 'city' in their promotional material to mean a large urban settlement".
It further noted that "Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth Garden City also styled themselves as cities despite not holding city status from the Crown". The council added that in its case, it was "bidding for city status in 2012", in order to get the royal stamp of approval.
While a sympathetic ASA "acknowledged that the word 'city' might sometimes be used to signify a large town when used in conversation in a colloquial or informal way", it stressed that "a place in Britain was a city only if it had been granted that status by the British monarch".
Ruling that the council had indeed breached the CAP Code, the watchdog concluded that because Medway didn't have the proper paperwork from Liz 2, readers of the leaflet "were likely to be disappointed".
We at the El Reg Bootnotes bureau seriously doubt that readers of the leaflet would be more disappointed by Medway's lack of city status than by the place itself – something which could perhaps be mitigated by an enormous erection beside the river? ®
Rochester did used to be a real city, until "an administrative error" stripped it of the title.
Rochester was a city.
Rochester was a city from time immemorial to 1998, when its council merged with Gillingham and Chatham to form Medway. Its city status could have been transferred to the new council, except that the authorities neglected to do the necessary paperwork to appoint ceremonial charter trustees, and so thus the city status was lost. So this ruling pretty much serves them right.
As a (some would say unfortunate) resident of the Unitary Authority of Medway (Gillingham, to be precise), I wholeheartedly applaud the ASA for taking this action.
Medway council are a bunch of ignorant fools who ride roughshod over the residents at every available opportunity.
Everybody I know who lives here is opposed to the attempt to grant city status to 'Medway' - we all think that Rochester should be reunited with its former status, but that the City Of Medway is a meaningless, empty title.
Sure, we all use 'Medway' to describe the area (Medway Towns), but prefer to keep the distinction of the separate towns that make up the area.
Medway council repeatedly choose to ignore the wishes of the residents to further their own vanity (and, many suspect, personal finances).
So, in response to your title - 'What a waste of money' - yes, but the waste has repeatedly come from the council itself; I doubt that the ASA's costs amount to anything like the money Medway council has wasted on this 'scheme'.
I lived in the Medway Towns (Gillingham) for a couple of years.
If Kent is the Garden of England, the Medway Towns are the compost heap.