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Preston’s ‘strong cultural and creative community’ highlighted as Lancashire revives bid for UK City of Culture 2025

Posted on - 20th July, 2021 - 9:55am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Campaigns, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News, Proud Preston
County Hall in Fishergate Pic: Tony Worrall
County Hall in Fishergate Pic: Tony Worrall

The Lancashire 2025 team has submitted an expression of interest for UK City of Culture 2025 following the axing of the original bid last month.

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The three-year process, in which the team worked in partnership with colleagues and stakeholders across the county, involved an ambitious vision for the bid.

But, in June, County Councillor Alan Vincent, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said after carefully considering the potential costs and benefits, the council could no longer underwrite it and withdrew the bid.

However, following an intense few weeks of discussion, the Lancashire 2025 team submitted the new bid on Monday 19 July.

Read more: Preston ‘has robust cultural strategy’ say leaders as Lancashire withdraws bid for UK City of Culture 2025

Tony Attard OBE DL, Chair of Lancashire 2025, said: “The vision for Lancashire’s bid is so compelling, and arguably more pertinent now than ever, so we simply could not give up on it.

“We are hugely grateful to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackpool Council, Preston City Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, who have remained unwavering in their support for our bid.

“Now that our expression of interest is in, we will continue to work with partners across the county to ensure that we maximise the profile that being part of this competition can bring.”

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Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council, said he is proud to support the bid.

He said: “I believe this is a great opportunity for Preston to be part of a repositioning for the county, with a bold bid that supports not only our strong cultural and creative community but also our local economy.

“Preston backs the bid for 2025 because it has something to offer for every resident and community, helping build on the talent and creativity which exists so strongly in our city. We are committed to continuing to work with our partners to ensure that the city and county gain the most from this experience.”

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Cllr Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, CBE, said they are proud to play a leading role as one of the key urban hubs within Lancashire’s bid.

He said: “We have worked closely with the team over the last year, and the bid will be focused on projects we know will add resilience and capacity to a cultural sector still reeling from the impacts of the pandemic.

“The obvious potential for increased tourism, media, economic impact, skills and jobs, not to mention further showcasing the array of cultural assets and projects Blackburn with Darwen delivers is incredibly exciting, presenting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our borough and county.”

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Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said a huge amount of work has gone into the project to get it to this stage, and it would be a shame to lose the opportunity to see it through.

She said: “We have significant experience of delivering world-class events in Blackpool, and we are immensely proud of our cultural offer. We will add whatever support we can to keep the City of Culture ambition alive.”

David Taylor, CBE DL, Deputy Chair of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said Lancashire Enterprise Partnership is delighted to support the county’s bid.

Read more: Live theatre returns to Preston after lockdown with Prest End musical medley 

He said: “We are pleased that an expression of interest has been submitted. We have always seen the huge potential for a City of Culture bid to enhance Lancashire’s reputation and recognition, supercharge its already compelling cultural offer and grow its economy.

“A successful bid to be UK City of Culture will not just boost visitor numbers, but it will further showcase how Lancashire is a great place to live, work and do business.”

A decision on which destinations have been long-listed, each of whom will receive £40,000 to support the development of full bids, is expected to be made by DCMS in September.

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Councillor Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth, said: “Lancashire County Council was unable to agree on an appropriate level of investment, risk and reward for the Lancashire 2025 bid, despite considerable efforts.

“We appreciate that Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Preston councils wish to continue to support this proposal, and we will provide the grant of £620k which had already been committed to the bid to help them with the work. We wish Lancashire 2025 and their partners well with their bid and hope it is successful.”



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