Coventry

Coventry City Centre

Mayoral candidates back Coventry 2021 bid

Whoever wins the race to be West Midlands Mayor is set to back Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 at the highest levels of government.

The six candidates have written to Matthew Hancock, minister of state for digital and culture, underlining their support for the bid which was submitted last week.

The successful city will be named later in the year and, Coventry could attract more than £1bn of investment if it emerges victorious.

In the letter to the MP, the candidates, who face the vote on Thursday and will know the outcome the following day, voice their unequivocal support for the bid.

They say: “We are proud of the cultural heritage and assets we have across our region. A successful bid from Coventry as one of our Constituent Members will be powerful not just for that City and Warwickshire, but for the entire region.”

At the same time, the chair and chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority have also written to Government pressing Coventry’s credentials to land the City of Culture crown.

Bob Sleigh and Martin Reeves have sent letters to Hancock and Martyn Henderson, the leading civil servant at the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, underlining the importance of culture and the Coventry bid to the area’s economic future.

David Burbidge, who is spearheading the bid, believes the overwhelming regional backing could prove significant.

“Places such as Glasgow, Liverpool and Hull have seen huge regeneration as capitals of culture but the time is right for the Midlands to be centre stage we and we believe our bid is best placed to delivery that benefit.

“The benefit of hosting in 2021 has been estimated at £80m for tourism but the other benefits are about connecting our people and tackling inequality.

“Coventry would be the most diverse city to host the title and is perfectly placed to attract major audiences.

 “We have had great support from business and the cultural sector, but to see all mayoral candidates and the two senior West Midlands Combined Authority figures speaking directly to the decision-makers at the heart of government is, we believe, extremely powerful.

“We think our bid is extremely strong not only from a cultural point of view but also in what it offers to the city and the region as a whole, and to have that underlined by our most senior representatives is a very positive development.

“The backing of the mayors follows an unprecedented level of support from local business with more than 80 businesses backing the bid and we have had more than 500 young people taking part in a citywide consultation led by local charity the Positive Youth Foundation.

“Regional cultural partners from both inside the and outside the city – such as the RSC and Motionhouse Dance – are also flocking to support Coventry’s bid.”