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Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston's City of Culture bid boosted by £100,000 from East Suffolk Council to give it 'best possible chance' of winning




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.

East Suffolk and Great Yarmouth councils teamed up to submit a bid last month for the 2025 City of Culture - the first time neighbouring towns can bid collectively - with Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston the key focus for Suffolk's bid.

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.

Cllr Carl Smith (right), Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk Council, announcing the joint bid to become the UK City of Culture 2025, at Somerleyton Hall
Cllr Carl Smith (right), Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk Council, announcing the joint bid to become the UK City of Culture 2025, at Somerleyton Hall

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.

On Tuesday night, East Suffolk Council's cabinet 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 six on the longlist, Government funding of £40,000 will then become available to develop it further.

The inaugural First Light Festival on Lowestoft's South Beach, 2019. Picture: Kate Ellis
The inaugural First Light Festival on Lowestoft's South Beach, 2019. Picture: Kate Ellis

Conservative council 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.

The Banksy piece on London Road North and Regent Road at the former Lowestoft Electrical premises. Picture: Rose Sapey
The Banksy piece on London Road North and Regent Road at the former Lowestoft Electrical premises. Picture: Rose Sapey

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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