Lancashire's City of Culture 2025 bid revived after being axed

It’s back on again! Lancashire’s ‘city of culture’ bid sensationally emerged from the ashes last night.
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Over the weekend, the chances of the county even entering the running for the coveted titles appeared dead in the water after disagreements over funding.

But just moments before the deadline yesterday to submit a bid, Lancashire sensationally changed face and reentered the race.

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Only last week, Lancashire County Council chiefs were adamant the bid should not go ahead because of the financial implications and district council also baulking at the cost.

Lancashire's City of Culture 2025 bid has been revived.Lancashire's City of Culture 2025 bid has been revived.
Lancashire's City of Culture 2025 bid has been revived.

But yesterday an 'expression of interest' was submitted - without the backing of Lancashire County Council.

It followed what organisers Lancashire 2025 called "an intense few weeks of discussion", following a "three-year process during which the team, working in partnership with colleagues and stakeholders across the county, developed an ambitious, innovative vision for the bid," a spokesman said..

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

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"We are hugely grateful to Blackburn with Darwen 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."

Coun Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, CBE, said: "We are proud to play a leading role as one of the key urban hubs within Lancashire’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.

"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.

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

"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."

Coun Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council said: "I am extremely proud that we are able to support this exciting and ambitious bid, to bring the City of Culture to Lancashire in 2025.

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"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."

David Taylor CBE DL, Deputy chair of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "Lancashire Enterprise Partnership is delighted to support the county’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2025 and 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.

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"A successful bid to be UK City of Culture will not just boost visitor numbers, 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.

Coun Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth, said: "Lancashire County Council was unable to agree 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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