CITY status would lift people’s spirits, in-spire a strong sense of civic pride and encourage people to focus on Southend’s best bits.

That is the view of residents’ groups who have joined the Echo, businesses and councils to throw their weight behind the town’s high-profile bid for city status.

They believe a successful bid could spark a revolution in the way residents and visitors think of the town.

Former Southend councillor and mayoress Verina Weaver, 54, of Boundary Way, Shoebury, said: “I think people have a tendency to dwell on what is bad in the town.

“Hopefully this will change that.

“There is a lot of good stuff going on here and personally, I think you have to look pretty hard to find the negatives.

“Southend is a fantastic place to live and it deserves to be a city.”

According to the Govern-ment’s latest population estimates, more than 160,000 people live in Southend.

That means it ranks second, only behind Norwich, on the list of the biggest conurbations in the east of England, and well ahead of its rivals in Essex.

Brenda Smith, 44, chairman of the Residents’ Association of Westborough, said: “I think the bid can only be a good thing.

“Hopefully it will bring more visitors and more money to the area.

“We have some beautiful parks and buildings in Southend. For example, Westcliff Library is Grade-II listed.

“There are lovely views, like the one of the estuary from Chalkwell Park.”

David Glover, 50, the association secretary, added: “We have a unique climate, which is lovely, and I know of artists and painters who come here for the light and the views.

“We are also the biggest town in Essex in terms of population.”

Regeneration projects across Southend have changed the face of the town over the past ten years.

Cathy Braun, 37, chairman of the Residents of Warrior Square Association, hopes a successful campaign for city status could spark another decade of prosperity.

“Southend has lots of potential and is improving all the time,” she said.

“There are a lot of key elements here – the university, the expanding airport, tourism and big businesses.

“We also have a very good community feel, and there are a lot of church groups and strong faiths.

“If nothing else, putting a bid in is good publicity for the area.”