Leading members of Lancashire’s business community are calling on Lancashire County Council to review its shock decision to withdraw from the UK capital of Culture bidding process.
The announcement to pull out of a contest that could have seen Lancashire win a prestigious title that would generate over £200m of economic benefits was made earlier this week.
The chief executive of private sector lobby group Downtown in Business, Frank McKenna said:
“I hope that the County Council will reconsider their decision. In addition to the huge financial boost a successful bid would bring to the county, there has undoubtedly already been benefits from putting this bid together.
“We have seen collaboration across Lancashire like never before, with the public, private, and third sectors uniting behind what is an innovative and dynamic project.
“You only have to look down the road to Liverpool to see how a focus on your cultural assets can catapult a place and act as a catalyst for economic growth. I appreciate the financial pressures local authorities are under at the moment, but I think this is a case of ‘penny wise, pound foolish’. I would urge Councillors to think again.”
The chair of the 2025 City of Culture bid and Marketing Lancashire Tony Attard added:
“The idea for Lancashire to become City of Culture 2025 is a journey that has matured over four years. A significant amount of work has been undertaken by many talented people from across the public and private sectors. It has involved considerable research and liaison with DCMS and the present incumbent Coventry CoC 2021. Coventry has received over 100m in infrastructure spend and expect £200m from increase in tourism of 1m visitors.
“Culture is a catalyst for change, and it will send a strong message to all that the county is determined to raise living standards, wellbeing and encourage learning and skills.
“Even at this late stage, I would hope that Lancashire County Council has a change of heart and sees the wider benefits of a bid that, we know, has a very good chance of success.”
The chair of Downtown in Business, Lancashire, and Preston entrepreneur Rob Binns commented: “This is a baffling decision that sends all the wrong messages to our business community, the government and potential investors. We are either an optimistic, confident county that has the ability to deliver major national events or we are a parochial place that is inward looking and lacking in ambition. We really do need to think of the wider, negative implications that pulling this bid will have.”