Leicester's rivals for 2017 UK City of Culture title revealed
The list of places vying with Leicester to be crowned the 2017 UK City of Culture has been revealed.
Last week the Mercury revealed bosses form the city's arts scene, businesses and politicians were preparing a bid to land the title currently held by Derry in Northern Ireland.
They hope winning the Government competition will raise the national and international profile of the city attracting huge numbers of visitors, creating tourism jobs and boosting the local economy by millions of pounds.
It was already known that Aberdeen and Plymouth would be among Leicester’s rivals for 2017 and today culture Minister Ed Vaizey revealed the other contenders.
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They are: Chester, Dundee, East Kent ( covering Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Thanet) Hastings and Bexhill on Sea, Hull, Portsmouth and Southampton, Southend on Sea, and Swansea Bay (covering Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath and Port Talbot).
Mr Vaizey said: “This is fantastic news and shows the appetite for the prestigious City of Culture title is in healthy supply right across the length and breadth of the country.
“The competition brings together communities and creates economic and social benefits and I am pleased to see so many local authorities and different partners coming together.
All 11 places have until April to submit their initial bids which will be considered by an independent advisory panel which will then decide on a shortlist which will be announced in June.
The winner will be announced in November.
Chairman of the independent advisory panel Phil Redmond said:
“The UK City of Culture can be a real catalyst for change and I’m delighted so many places have registered their interest in the competition for 2017. Together with the panel I’m looking forward to receiving some ambitious and dynamic bids that highlight the very best of local cultural talent, along with delivering a realistic programme that will appeal to as wide an audience as possible.”
Chief executive of the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce Martin Traynor is a member of the consortium putting together the city’s bid.
He said: “Our city has such a rich variety of cultures and that is a great strength.
"There will be some very strong bids from other cities but I think we have a very good chance of winning. If we can clinch it then the benefits for this city will be huge. We have already seen what a massive impact it has had in Derry in terms of visitor numbers and their spending and they are just two months into a year-long programme.”