Details of the competition were unveiled by Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, who invited local authorities across the United Kingdom to apply.
Existing cities can also bid for the award of a Lord Mayoralty or, in Scotland, a Lord Provostship.
The two awards - known as ‘civic honours’ - are rare marks of distinction which are sparingly granted. They will be made in honour of the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s accession to the throne.
Civic honours were last awarded in 2002, to mark the Golden Jubilee, when Preston, Stirling, Newport, Lisburn and Newry were awarded city status, and Exeter was awarded a Lord Mayoralty. In 2012, just one award of city status and one award of Lord Mayoralty is expected to be made.
“Marking Her Majesty’s 60 years on the throne in 2012 will be a great opportunity for the nation to come together in celebration, just as it did for her Silver and Golden Jubilees,” said Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture. “This competition will be an important part of this and will ensure that there is a lasting legacy that will remain long after the festivities are over. I look forward to hearing who’s won.”
Local authorities should follow entry guidelines, published today, when submitting their applications. The results of the compteition will be announced in the first half of 2012.