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Monday, April 06, 2015
The danger now is that Leicester and the county will grow apart
First Person: The danger now is that Leicester and the county will grow apart
The eyes of the world were on Leicester as we reintered
Richard III, but one of the best parts of the week of celebrations was good
precisely because it did not just involve the city.
Taking Richard’s bones to the site of the Battle of Bosworth
and to the villages associated with it seemed an odd, almost primitive, idea
when it was announced. But it turned out to be a triumph.
What we saw on the BBC News channel and heard on BBC Radio
Leicester that Sunday was a civic England - councillors, ex-servicemen, Scouts
and Brownies – some feared had been lost in the ‘modernisation’ and the
turbo-capitalism of the last two decades.
What we also saw, as the cortege set off from the city,
toured a distant party of the county and then returned was Leicester resuming
its place at the ceremonial centre of the county.
That is how it should be, but rarely has been since the city
broke away from the rest of the county to become a unitary authority in 1997.
Overnight, Leicestershire went from being an ancient
authority whose boundaries everyone understood to being a doughnut. There was a
hole in the middle where its historic county town ought to be.
The danger now is that the city and county will grow apart.
One multiracial, multicultural, multieverything and close to a Labour one-party
state. The other a chunk of Tory England dressed in Barbours and living off
Stilton and pork pies.
There are a lot of stereotypes here (though, come to think of it, I own a
Barbour myself). Two Leicestershire districts are run by the Liberal Democrats
and it’s not long since the party ran Leicester in coalition with the
But we do need
something to bring Leicester and its county back together. And, as the county cricket team is no longer up to the
job, maybe Richard III can help?
I’m not suggesting we dig the old boy up again and take him
to see Twycross Zoo or Foxton Locks. But there have been suggestions that the magical
Leicester Glows event that finished the celebrations should become an annual
That is a great idea, and it will be an even better one if
the event keeps the countywide spirit alive. Maybe someone could ride in from
Bosworth with a flame to start the thing off or we could find some other part
of the county’s history to connect with it?
However it is done, it would be good see Leicester at the
heart of the county again.