MPs, business leaders and celebrities from across Staffordshire and Cheshire heard how Stoke-on-Trent winning the UK City of Culture 2021 competition would benefit the whole region.
Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy hosted a reception on November 27 for more than 40 guests at Westminster Hall, ahead of the naming of the winning city early next month.
Mr Lefroy said: “This competition has united businesses, community leaders and institutions across Staffordshire and Cheshire – a win for Stoke-on-Trent will have huge benefits for the entire region.
“I was thrilled to have been able to host this reception at Parliament to demonstrate the wealth of support for the bid. It has been fascinating to see how the bid has captured the imagination of so many groups and organisations, and how that positivity has manifested itself into a hugely credible bid and great belief in what the city and region can offer. The hard work by all parties over the last 12 months and beyond is paying off.
“It is important that MPs from across the region work together as what is good for Stoke-on-Trent is good for Staffordshire and vice versa. I would like to wish the bid team all the very best when they go to Hull in the next few days to present their bid.”
Leaders from across the region attended the event including Stoke-on-Trent MPs Jack Brereton, Ruth Smeeth and Gareth Snell. MPs from around Staffordshire, including Amanda Milling MP were also present alongside local council leaders including acting chief executive Kath O’Dwyer, Newcastle-under-Lyme Mayor Simon White and Stoke-on-Trent Lord Mayor Ross Irving.
A number of representatives from big businesses and organisations including Port Vale Football Club, Goodwins International, Steelite International, the British Council and Ernst and Young were also in attendance.
Speakers at the event included Stoke-on-Trent-born TV presenter and singer Jonathan Wilkes and actress Rachel Shenton.
Jonathan Wilkes said: “I’m incredibly proud that Stoke-on-Trent’s creativity and ambition is being recognised on such a national scale. We have the people and the passion to deliver an outstanding year as UK City of Culture and create a feel-good factor across the entire region.”
Rachel Shenton spoke passionately, saying: “I’m an incredibly proud Stokie. In my job I’ve had the privilege of travelling around the world, but I am yet to see a city that has more heart and humility than Stoke-on-Trent. It really is a place where the word community is alive and well. As a representative of the arts and creative media I can tell you that the industry is thriving with some incredible work being produced each year. Winning the bid would great for this city.”
Councillor Abi Brown, Stoke-on-Trent City Council deputy leader and chair of the city’s bid, who was also at the event, said: “Our bid has united the city, the county and the wider region. It is fantastic to see so much support, right across the political spectrum and from business leaders to community groups.
“We have a compelling story to tell, how a city that makes things out of the earth beneath our feet into beautiful art, admired and coveted around the world, how our businesses continue to innovative, and where creative industries have a chance to blossom.
“Such support not only shows how Staffordshire and Cheshire is backing the bid, but how there is the will, co-operation and positive energy in maximising all of the opportunities that being named UK City of Culture 2021 will bring.”
Mark Gregory, chief economist at Ernst and Young has analysed the economic impact that a Stoke-on-Trent win could have on the local economy. He said: “Based on the work done to analyse Stoke City Football Club’s Premier League status to the local and regional economies, an additional impact of £73.1 million to the economy from being the UK City of Culture in 2021 appears very achievable given that the football club generated around £132 million in the 2015/16 season.
“An extensive programme of events on the scale envisaged for Stoke-on-Trent in 2021 has the potential to match the impact of the football club on the local economy. Major shifts in activity are possible, Stoke City have increased their revenues more than tenfold in the last decade, transforming the club on and off the field. There is no reason to believe a major programme such as UK City of Culture could not have a similarly dramatic effect.”
Stoke-on-Trent is one of five shortlisted cities for the UK City of Culture 2021 title – alongside Coventry, Paisley, Sunderland and Swansea. The winner will be announced by a judging panel in Hull in early December.
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