Mayor Boris Johnson is backing Croydon’s bid to become London’s third city.

In an exclusive interview with the Croydon Guardian, Mayor Johnson said he welcomed the £3.4billion renovation of the town.

On the rebranding of Croydon to encourage more Londoners to visit, Mayor Johnson said: “I like what they are doing in Croydon, you can't fault it. Croydon is the third city of London, it is going to be.”

Croydon has launched city bids twice before at the beginning of the new millennium in 2000 and more recently during the Queen’s golden jubilee year in 2002.

Sources said it would bid again at the next opportunity.

To become a city, the council must prove to the Lord Chancellor its regional significance, historical features including royal connections and a forward-looking attitude.

In the interview a week before his landmark 100 days in office, Mayor Johnson also revealed he had considered plans to criminalise the many youth gangs which plague the town but decided against it.

He said: “I thought about that a lot but I don't like to criminalise things for the sake of it.

“There are gangs that are better than others and not all are bad.

“We need to concentrate on the policing and solutions.

“If they are caught with a knife they will find they are in serious trouble. We need to have a powerful deterrent.

“It is tragic that kids feel so scared that they carry knives.

“It is also tragic they feel carrying a knife is glamorous and cool.

“It is crazy and risky, and if you carry a knife you increase the risk of it being used.”

“How we get that message across to kids is very hard,” he said, adding protecting and reclaiming playing fields for young people to use would help.

The town’s leaders welcomed the mayor’s support for any future city status bid.

Malcolm Wicks, Labour’s Croydon North MP, said: “I’ll back Boris if he backs Croydon.

“He has been elected as London Mayor and it is important to get a good relationship with him.”

Mike Fisher, leader of the council, said: “I think it can only be helpful if you have the Mayor of London behind you.

“It also attracts new investment into Croydon and Boris recognises south London’s importance to the economy.”

Council opposition leader Tony Newman said: “We welcome anything that will add to the regeneration of the town centre.”

  • What do you think? Is Croydon London's third city? Should it have city status? Let us know in the comments section below.