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City Status for Milton Keynes – Confirming to the world what we’ve known for ages

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At the fourth time of asking, Milton Keynes has finally been granted city status by Her Majesty the Queen in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee. 

When I first came to this city (yep, I really can say that now) in 1990 the population was about 150,000 and it was very much one of England’s new towns.  Today quarter of a million people live in the fastest growing city in the UK where 140 languages are spoken and thirty different religions are practised making this one of the most diverse places in the country.

When I heard the news, I was surprised; not that this recognition had finally arrived, but at how excited and pleased I felt that it had come at last – something I hope and believe will be felt by everyone connected with the College. Civic Pride is a term we tend to associate with the Victorians and their great municipal buildings, but it’s something I believe Milton Keynes has in great quantities.  People who come here quickly love it, and those who were born and brought up within its boundaries, many of whom walk through our doors at Milton Keynes College Group, have that sense of belonging to a special place.  This morning I told some of our learners currently running the gauntlet of GCSEs that they would be the very first indivdiuals to sit and gain their qualifications as citizens of the new city.  It was clear this felt like a big thing to them, and so it should.

My Milton Keynes, the city I have come to call home, is a place where people care about each other, where different communities joyfully and passionately work together for the common good, and where innovation, entrepreneurialism, creativity and sheer determination combine to produce an explosive, vibrant, exciting place to be.

Milton Keynes is not perfect.  We have areas where life expectancy, educational attainment and all those other measures of a community’s overall health are not what they should be.  The great news from today is that we can face the challenge to improve with even greater vigour and confidence knowing that the world outside can now see us as the place we really are.  Milton Keynes has felt like, behaved like, a city for a very long time.  We’ve just been waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. 

But that’s okay.  We’re used to being ahead of the curve.