COUNCIL chiefs behind Chester’s failed bid to become UK City of Culture 2017 have reaffirmed their belief that the wrong city was chosen.
Hull was yesterday selected for the honour, beating competition from the other shortlisted cities, Dundee, Swansea and Leicester.
Those behind Chester’s bid to be given the accolade were left stunned in June, when a judging panel deemed the city not even worthy of a place on the shortlist, citing the lack of a cinema and theatre within the city.
Cllr Stuart Parker, Conservative, executive member for culture for Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), played a key role in the city’s bid and congratulated the eventual winners, Hull, but stated his belief that the honour should have been bestowed on Chester.
“Let me say that I congratulate Hull on their success and good luck to them, but I do believe that is should have been us,” said Cllr Parker. “We were shocked and bitterly disappointed not to be at least named on the shortlist as we were the bookies favourite and thought we had a great chance.
“To be honest, you don’t associate places like Hull and Leicester with culture.
“They are nice cities, yes, but I don’t think that they offer what we do.
“We are continuing with our plans to make Chester a cultural hub, even without having the status attached to it. We have big plans for the city and we will carry on.
“It would have been a wonderful achievement but we have to move on and continue without it.
“Maybe we have been a victim of our own success. Maybe it was a case of them needing it more than us.”
Council bosses had hoped plans to invest about £50 million in culture, including the proposed £40.5m theatre on the site of the former Odeon cinema, would be enough to persuade the judging panel to at least include Chester on the shortlist.
Cheshire West and Chester Labour Group believe, however, that more work should have been done and that the Council should ‘watch and learn’.
Cheshire West and Chester Labour culture spokesman, Cllr Louise Gittins, who has written to congratulate the leader of Hull City Council, Cllr Stephen Brady, said: “The bid put forward by Cheshire West and Chester Council earlier this year was not successful and contrary to the views of the Tory council leader, Mike Jones, the Labour group in Cheshire West does not accept the failure of our own bid as a “compliment”.
“Someone in the Conservative group has to accept there is considerably more work to be done on the cultural offer here before we could be in a position to win such a prestigious endorsement.
“It’s vital to look and learn at the success of Hull, Londonderry and Liverpool and make a bid in the future which truly recognises our cultural heritage not just in Chester but across the borough.”