Businesses and MPs across Staffordshire and beyond have united in telling Parliament how Stoke-on-Trent’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid is galvanising the region.
Leaders of businesses, industry, culture and education rallied for the briefing event at the House of Commons today (Wednesday). They were told why the city should win and how the bid is boosting the area.
The event, led by Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton, was attended by delegates including London Deputy Mayor for Culture Justine Simons OBE, Baroness Golding, invited guests from the US Embassy, and had the support of neighbouring counties including Cheshire. It was attended by a host of city and regional MPs including Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North), Gareth Snell (Stoke-on-Trent Central), Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), Amanda Milling (Cannock Chase) and David Rutley (Macclesfield).
Scores of Stoke-on-Trent businesses, including intu Potteries, Potteries Buses, the City Centre Partnership, and other bid partners including Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Staffordshire University and YMCA North Staffordshire explained how they are right behind the bid.
Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton said: “The bid is a unique opportunity to celebrate and promote our city’s achievements.
“The Parliamentary reception brought together leaders from the worlds of culture, education, business and industry.
“In Stoke-on-Trent, we have always made things; our creative industries are known around the world. To be made UK City of Culture 2021 would, as the presentations at the reception showed, not only be of huge economic benefit to our city, but the justified recognition of the vibrant and underappreciated culture of Stoke-on-Trent.”
John Young, managing director of Michelin Tyres – one of Stoke-on-Trent’s biggest employers, flew in from Ireland to speak at the event and said that his whole workforce is behind the bid for the city to win.
Stoke-on-Trent’s bid has previously been supported in Parliament at a Westminster Hall debate organised by Ruth Smeeth MP earlier this year, and an Early Day Motion currently tabled by Gareth Snell MP.
Stoke-on-Trent deputy leader Abi Brown, who is chair of the city’s bid, said: “Such widespread support means that Stoke-on-Trent's bid doesn't just deliver for the city but for the wider sub region and the whole of the UK also.
“We feel that our time is now. We’re one of the fastest growing economies in the UK, and ranked 11th in the Sunday Times top 20 cultural cities ranking. We believe that becoming UK City of Culture 2021 will supercharge this resurgence and change our city for the better, for ever.
“Our cultural programme will showcase the brightest and best of the UK cultural scene, bringing together national and international partners, with local content that could only come from the ‘world capital of ceramics’.
“We have set ourselves ambitious targets to deliver a boost in tourism, creative sector growth and engagement with culture. I believe that Stoke-on-Trent is one of the most exciting cities in the UK, and our shortlisting crystallises that status.”
Stoke-on-Trent is one of five cities shortlisted for the UK City of Culture 2021 title, along with Coventry, Paisley, Sunderland and Swansea. The winner will be announced by government in December.
Councillor Anthony Munday, cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure, said: “Events like this are fantastic in showcasing our passion for all that Stoke-on-Trent has to offer and there was a real buzz in the room. We’re serious in telling the whole of the UK what this high-profile designation will mean for our city, that we can deliver on a national and international stage and that there is huge commitment and support from businesses and communities across the region.”
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