A new dawn as Hull beats odds to scoop City of Culture prize

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HULL is being promised a “new dawn” with huge social and economic benefits after clinching the title of City of Culture 2017.

The city was the unanimous choice of judges yesterday, beating Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay, and can now look forward to an estimated £184m of extra economic spend between 2015 and 2020.

Maria Miller at Hull Pier overlooking the Deep

Maria Miller at Hull Pier overlooking the Deep

Winning has been estimated at delivering a £60m economic boost in 2017 alone.

The announcement saw euphoric scenes at Hull Truck Theatre where a crowd gathered yesterday morning.

Graham Chesters, who was part of the City of Culture bid presentation team in Derry-Londonderry last week, said: “It means the city will never be the same again because the nation’s eyes will be on us and it is a once-in-a-lifetime’s opportunity to change perceptions of the city.

“It has been a long time coming. We won this bid because of the pride of the people of Hull.”

The Humber Bridge

The Humber Bridge

A video promoting the city’s bid has been viewed more than 76,000 times already and businesses have already pledged £374,000 support towards the £15m programme.

The number of businesses getting involved is expected to soar in coming months.

Bid advisor Andrew Dixon said: “Nothing has captured the public’s imagination as much as this, but the fact we had 22 companies pledge their support has been a major factor in our success.

“I hope every company in Hull thinks about the contribution they can make to the year.

“It is a year that will transform national perceptions and give us the chance to put right misconceptions.

“I think people in Hull have grown two inches today; they have lifted their heads and thought for once we have won something. We have been tasked to deliver and we will deliver in style.”

Council leader Steve Brady said the “game-changing” decision in Hull’s favour could only be improved on by German manufacturing giant Siemens making the commitment to invest in a new wind turbine factory on the dock.

He said: “It is the start of a new dawn; it’s very uplifting. If we could get that decision very soon on Siemens, then the city will really believe we are on the move.”

Culture Secretary Maria Miller and chairman of the panel of judges Phil Redmond travelled to Hull after yesterday morning’s decision for a tour of the city.

Mr Redmond said Hull had put forward the most compelling case based on its theme as a “city coming out of the shadows.”

He said: “This is at the heart of their project and reminds both its people and the wider world of both its cultural past and future potential. We were particularly impressed with Hull’s evidence of community and creative engagement, their links to the private sector and their focus on legacy, including a commitment to enhance funding beyond 2017.”

Current holder Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland has more than doubled visitor numbers and every £1m invested is expected to gave generated a further £5.

Hull and East Yorkshire Bondholders, a network of 185 businesses, said it was a chance for the city to ditch “false and out-dated” perceptions.

“Only last month an Economist article cited Hull as one of “Britain’s Decaying Towns”.

Chair Peter Aarosin said the decision was a “landmark in Hull’s history”.

Plans for 2017 includes a spectacular aerial show using the tidal barrier in the city, a major digital, sound and light event and the planting of thousands of trees to create “sustainable gateways to the city”.

Tourism boss hails decision

Yorkshire’s tourism boss predicted the announcement would act as a springboard to increased visitor numbers.

Gary Verity, boss at Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This is a momentous day for Hull and the whole of Yorkshire.

“The bid team and whole city’s passion and determination to win this status has been matched only by the diverse and thriving cultural scene currently flowing through Hull.

“We hope it will provide a real boost to tourism during the coming years.”