Forget Europe - let's host our own '˜Yorkshire Year of Culture'!

Peace broke out in the Leeds council chamber as a motion urging the city to ensure it can still reap rewards from its stalled bid for the European Capital of Culture title won cross party backing.

West Indian Carnival, Chapeltown Leeds..Nisha Pankhania..28th August 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

And Neil Buckley, the Tory councillor who put forward the motion at this week’s full council meeting at Leeds Civic Hall, suggested Leeds - and the wider county - could bounce back from the disappointment by hosting its own ‘Yorkshire Year of Culture’ or teaming up with its former bid rivals.

In a rare moment of political accord, Coun Buckley’s motion was seconded by leader of the council Judith Blake, and supported by the vast majority of councillors across the parties.

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“Beyond the initial shock and anger and disappointment, we are where we are now, and there’s no point in dwelling on what might have been,” Coun Buckley told colleagues.

“The decision has been made and it’s unlikely to be changed.
“We can either burst into tears, go and sit in the corner and do nothing, or we can say ‘come on let’s do this, Europe or no Europe’.”

He said Leeds could ensure a genuine, positive legacy from all the hard work that was put into preparing the Leeds2023 bid before it was virtually scuppered by European Commission bureaucrats because of Brexit.

“Leeds must get hold of this and sell the Year of Culture and be ultra positive about it,” Coun Buckley said.

“This is vital with possibly the other bidders, or possibly on our own.

“Could it be the city region and the Yorkshire brand as per the cycling? Yes, why not? Let’s get on the back of that. “

However there was a note of caution from Green councillor Ann Blackburn and Lib Dem Jonathan Bentley that the taxpayer should not bear the burden of any legacy work, especially as the cash strapped council looks to finalise its budget for the coming year next month, and need to plug a £38m hole in it finances.