PURSUING city status would be “an unhelpful distraction” with few concrete benefits, the town’s leading politicians have said.

The remarks follow suggestions that Swindon should, at some point in the near future, launch a new bid to acquire city status.

Some people have spoken favourably of turning Swindon into a city, citing the perceived benefits of greater investment potential and what one Old Town resident referred to as “a general feeling of progress”.

Alan Simms, 57, from Rodbourne, said he already thinks of Swindon as a city and it “made sense” to go that extra mile and “make it official”.

“Swindon is quite cosmopolitan in many ways and I think it would be a real badge of honour if we could officially call ourselves a city,” he said.

Echoing Mr Simms’ comments, Toby Robson, who unsuccessfully stood for Eastcott for the Liberal Democrats in May’s election, said the town was “already starting to feel like a city”.

He said: “Swindon is at a bit of a crossroads at the moment with the massive expansion that is taking place across the town. With the amount of growth and investment that’s underway, I think it may be quite helpful for the future if we look again at acquiring city status.”

He pointed out the curious oddity whereby the South Swindon Parish Council, on which Toby sits, serves around 45,000 people while Salisbury City Council serves less than 40,000.

Swindon has sought city status before. But after bids submitted in the late 1990s and in 2002 were rejected it was widely thought that the goal was out of reach.

And council leader David Renard has dismissed any suggestion that it is back on the agenda.

He said: “Swindon is already one of the top performing towns and cities in the country, as shown by the Centre for Cities annual report. My priority is to continue this economic growth, especially through our close working with the LEP and all neighbouring areas.”

Pursuing city status, he added, “is not on the agenda and it would act as an unhelpful distraction from what we are aiming to achieve”.

Jim Grant, the leader of the Labour Group, displayed a similar degree of scepticism as Coun Renard, challenging those who seek a change of status to clearly “identify the benefits of such a proposition”.

He said: “I would need to see the concrete benefits of Swindon becoming a city before I could support such a proposal. We have pursued this before and a lot of money and energy was invested in it without any success.

“Swindon has a lot challenges currently as it is so to add an unnecessary challenge with little benefit seems pointless to me. However if, for example, it is proven that becoming a city would lead to more inward investment then that would be something that would need considering.”