£320,000 could be spent on coastal City of Culture bid

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant and Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Carl Smith

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant (left) and Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Carl Smith at Somerleyton Hall to announce the City of Culture 2025 - Credit: GREAT YARMOUTH BOROUGH COUNCIL

East Suffolk Council has committed £100,000 to developing its City of Culture bid with Great Yarmouth and Gorleston to give it “the best chance possible” of winning.

The councils teamed up to submit a bid last month for the 2025 City of Culture – the first time neighbouring towns can bid collectively.

The bid covers the whole coastal area, stretching from Landguard Point in Felixstowe to the village of Winterton on Sea, 10 miles north of Great Yarmouth.

Twenty-seven applications have been lodged, which must be whittled down to a longlist of six this month, before the final three will be announced in the New Year. The winner will be announced in May 2022.

The Suffolk and Norfolk bid has so far been backed by 150 letters of support, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), MPs and the county councils, but councillors are keen to invest so they can ensure the bid gets longlisted.

First Light Festival

First Light Festival is one of the many cultural events across the districts - Credit: KATE ELLIS

East Suffolk Council’s (ESC) cabinet has now agreed to provide up to £100,000 in developing the bid, with Great Yarmouth Borough Council set to decide the same level of input at its meeting on September 13.

In addition, an £80,000 application has been made to the LEP. If successful in making the longlist, Government funding of £40,000 will then become available to develop it further.

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This will mean a total of £320,000 being spent on the bid.

ESC leader Steve Gallant said: “Should we be successful or should we not the reality is that this sector is really, really important to us, and this is an opportunity.

“It’s been a very, very difficult time and it’s an opportunity to provide a lot of support, and make a lot of noise, about the great things that are going on right across East Suffolk from Felixstowe all the way up to Lowestoft, and all the way from east to west of our district together with our partners in Great Yarmouth.”

City of Culture status traditionally brings big economic benefits to areas which are historically overlooked.

Hull in 2017 saw 5.3million visitors, 2,800 events and £89.3m of investment, while the latest winner Coventry has reported 2.5m visitors and £211m of investment.

It is hoped the latest Banksy artworks to emerge in the districts over recent weeks can help, along with the financial commitment and large swathes of support.

Regardless of whether the bid is successful, a cultural strategy for the area will be drawn up to showcase the district’s arts, heritage and leisure offering.

Peter Byatt from the Labour group said: “Generally speaking we really welcome this decision and it’s something we need to throw our weight totally behind.”

Caroline Topping, leader of the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group, added: “I really want us to win this and I want us to have the best chance possible and have all the right people in there.”


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