diamond geezer

 Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Local News: Tower Hamlets
I don't know if you're as excited as me about Tower Hamlets' bid for city status. That's not very excited at all, for the avoidance of doubt. Twenty-six potential cities have nominated themselves as part of a special one-off competition for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. One of these will get the nod early next year, and the other 25 will grumble, shuffle off and pretend they never asked. Tower Hamlets is up against Bolton, Bournemouth, Chelmsford, Colchester, Coleraine, Corby, Craigavon, Croydon, Doncaster, Dorchester, Dudley, Dumfries, Gateshead, Goole, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Perth, Reading, Southend, St Asaph, St Austell, Stockport and Wrexham, many of which look to me like potential cities in a way that Tower Hamlets doesn't. I live in a fantastically historic and diverse borough, don't get me wrong, but nothing about these disparate eight square miles screams "city" to me. Plus we haven't got a hope in hell of winning. The other UK district to earn a plaudit next year is Greenwich, which becomes a Royal Borough no less, and there's no way ministers will award two Jubilee honours to adjacent parts of the capital.

But that hasn't stopped Tower Hamlets promoting their bid big time, and today they're launching a minor PR wheeze. It's called Tower Hamlets Tweets, and everyone from the Mayor downwards will be involved. The idea is to "involve people from across the borough and beyond tweeting the reasons why they believe the borough is a great place to live, work and visit". "Anyone wishing to show their pride in the borough", they say, "can join in by simply finishing their tweets with #cityoftowerhamlets". Even better, because PR folk leave no branding journey to chance, the council website includes a downloadable Word document giving slightly patronising advice for the sorts of things they'd like dutiful citizens to tweet. Things like "Reasons why you think Tower Hamlets is ready to be a city" (It isn't #cityoftowerhamlets). Things like "Interesting facts about the borough that others may not know." (Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of child poverty in London #cityoftowerhamlets). And things like "Your favourite landmarks or places of interest in the borough" (Two cyclists have died recently at the Bow Roundabout #cityoftowerhamlets). The entire event risks inciting apathy or mischief, or both, because not everyone's as optimistic as the folk who dreamt up this campaigning idea. But why not keep an eye on Tower Hamlets' twitterstream today to see how the whole event goes? Just don't expect much joy when the announcement's made next year, because Hamlets ain't no city.

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