The Croydon Guardian joined forces with the York Evening Press to ‘swap’ mayors for the day, in an initiative labelled Trading Maces.
Both papers worked together to arrange a day out for their respective mayors on each other’s patch, giving them a chance to compare the historic city of York with Croydon, Europe’s largest town.
Croydon’s mayor, Coun Stuart Collins said: “We visited a city which thrives on its history and I am showing the Lord Mayor of York a town which is thriving on its future.”
The idea followed campaign from the weekly Guardian, We Think Croydon’s Champion, a partnership between the newspaper, Croydon Council, and several key businesses in the town.
Its aims include promoting Croydon, to generate a sense of pride in the town locally, and to spread the message that Croydon is a ‘champion’ place to live, work and play.
The campaign runs all year, organised by a committee made up of people from the newspaper, council representatives and representatives from each of the sponsor businesses.
Editor Jo Gumb said: “This year someone had the idea of a ‘mayor swap’ to promote the town, which is why I got in touch with York, to see if they could help, because I knew that the Evening Press had run a similar campaign, Pride of York.
“Since Croydon is Europe’s largest town, but has never been honoured with city status, we thought it would be interesting to do a compare and contrast with somewhere completely different.
“York, once the seat of our northern Parliament, is a historic city which has protected its heritage, while Croydon is more ‘new town’ and undergoing a lot of redevelopment at present, with new retail shopping centres currently under construction and a massive regeneration arc which will give it a cultural quarter by 2008.
“It turned out to be a fascinating experience, and both mayors said they had come away with ideas from each other’s areas.”
enjoying a visit to Surrey Street Market
Coun Collins spent the day in York where he experienced the Jorvik Viking museum, York Minster, the National Railway Museum and York’s smallest pub, the Blue Bell.
The visit was returned when Lord Mayor of York, Coun David Horton toured Croydon’s Airport House, London’s first airport, Grants Leisure Complex, Surrey Street market, and the new Centrale shopping centre, which opens this summer.
After the tour, Coun Horton backed calls for Croydon to be awarded city status.
He told the Guardian: “Croydon suffers from the fact it’s a London Borough, but in terms of population and business area in its own right, given its size and complexity there is certainly a good case for city status.”
The trips have started links between Croydon and York, which several organisations involved have said that they would like to continue.
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