BOLTON is preparing an ambitious bid to secure city status.

Civic leaders have announced they will apply for the coveted title as part of the celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

If Her Majesty grants Bolton city status, it would be fourth time lucky — the town missed out on bids in 1992 to mark the Queen’s 40th year as monarch; in 2000 for the Millennium and in 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

Bolton Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris, said: “We are a city in all but name. I think Bolton deserves this status.

“We are one of the biggest towns in the country and we have a long and proud history dating back more than 1,000 years.

“We should go after the official recognition we rightfully deserve. I think if we became a city then it would boost an even greater sense of civic pride.

“It would also help to boost our profile, make us more attractive as a place to hold major events and do business and, more than anything, it will spark a feel-good factor.”

The bid, which will be submitted later this year when the criteria is set out by the Ministry for Justice, has the backing of all political leaders.

Cllr John Walsh, leader of the Conservative group on Bolton Council, said: Bolton has a long and proud history being one of the first boroughs created in 1838. “Local and civic pride is very important and city status would be a huge boost locally and in cementing Bolton’s place regionally, nationally and internationally.

“There has never been a better time for a strong bid to bring together all that is best in Bolton to show the world that Bolton is the place for business and commerce, sport and leisure.”

His Liberal Democrat counterpart Cllr Roger Hayes added: “As one of the friendliest towns in the country, the recognition given by becoming a city would be appreciated by all the communities in the borough.”

Keith Davies, Bolton Council director of regeneration and development, who previously led Liverpool’s bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008, will head up the Bolton bid with residents, business leaders and celebrities also expected to be brought on board.

Bolton comedian Dave Spikey, star of TV’s Phoenix Nights and Dead Man Weds, has already backed the bid.

He said: “Bolton is a big town with a big heart. I have always said that Bolton possesses a wealth of stunning architecture including the most wonderful Town Hall.

“It is a vibrant town with much to offer from its traditional market, to a nationally acclaimed theatre and becoming a city would back up its status in Greater Manchester.

“I am immensely proud of Bolton and Boltonians are the most genuine, warm and welcoming folk that you are ever likely to meet.”

The last competition coincided with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 when Bolton was beaten to city status by Preston, Newport and Stirling.

Since then, the town has seen the establishment of the University of Bolton, Bolton Wanderers has entered the Premier League and the town has hosted successful international events such as the badminton and cycling competitions during the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and the UK Ironman Triathlon and developed economic links with China and India.

While holding city status brings no extra constitutional benefits other than the right to call itself a city, the increased profile brings its own economic benefits such as fresh business investment and added confidence in a place’s ability to host major sporting and cultural events.

A motion is due to be presented at the meeting of the full council on March 3, to ask all the councillors to support the bid.