MSPs pledge cross party support for Paisley UK City of Culture 2021 bid

Politicians across Scotland pledged their cross party support for Paisley’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021 at a Holyrood debate ahead of  the final submission on Friday.

MSPs put their political differences aside to vote unanimously to back the town’s bid to secure the title at the debate in Parliament on Wednesday.

MSPs pledge cross party support for Paisley UK City of Culture 2021 bid

The motion was in the name of Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary  for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, and also backed Dundee’s bid to be European City of Culture 2023.

The Cabinet Secretary said that Paisley’s bid journey has been “inspiring” and added: “The Paisley bid has been developed through extensive community engagement and the people of Paisley have helped put together a strong bid for the town and Scotland.

“More than 30,000 Buddies have been engaged in the process of developing the bid which has broad base community support. This is part of a broader heritage and culture led regeneration strategy to transform Paisley into a vibrant  cultural and creative destination.”

The Scottish Government has already pledged its financial backing if the Renfrewshire town takes the title.

Also speaking in the chamber, Labour MSP for West of Scotland region Neil Bibby backed the motion and said he believed the bid had the power to ‘transform Paisley’.

He added: “The bid is not just about celebrating Paisley, it’s about making a difference. Winning the City of Culture title would provide a major economic boost to Paisley and Renfrewshire.”

Paisley is the sole Scottish contender in the competition organised by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on behalf of the UK Government.

Friday is the deadline to submit the second stage bid.

George Adam, SNP member for Paisley raised a laugh in the Parliament chamber when he opened an emotive speech about his home town to  declare: “I  am of course extremely pleased  to take part in this debate, a whole afternoon of positive Paisley-ness will do me nicely.”

He added: “This bid can be a catalyst, it can make a difference in people’s lives and hopefully show the world what 21st century Paisley has to offer.”

Maurice Corry, Conservative MSP for West Scotland, said: “Paisley is a fantastic place to live and work and its warm people and rich, interesting cultural heritage deserve to be honoured in this way. I truly hope Paisley does indeed become the UK City of Culture 2021.”

Labour MSP Mary Fee, who also represents  West Scotland region, said: “To have progressed this far is in itself testament to the strength of the bid and I know that Paisley has got what it takes to win the title.”

The other shortlisted bidders are Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea with a decision expected by mid December.

Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron, who was in the chamber to hear the debate, said: “It’s great to receive backing from across the political spectrum in Scotland in the run up to the bid being sent off.

“Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture is now Scotland’s bid and we welcome the fact that all the political parties have united behind it. It’s another great show of support.”

The bid is part of a wider push to use the town’s unique culture and assets to transform its future.

Winning would create the equivalent of 4,700 jobs over the next ten years  and boost the economy by £175m, leaving a lasting legacy for the whole of Renfrewshire.

A programme of world class events would bring in an expected audience of  over  a million across 2021.

Since winning the title in 2013, current holder Hull has seen £1 billion of investment, with the city attracting 1.4 million visitors in the first three months of its year in the spotlight.