Belfast Telegraph

City of Culture bid requires united political front in Londonderry

By Sam Lister

Political leaders must show a united front if Londonderry is to have a serious chance of winning the City of Culture crown, a leading tourism expert has warned.

The city’s bid has won emphatic public support, with thousands of Facebook members joining a group dedicated to the bid on the social networking site, as well as enthusiastic civic and business backing and praise from the United States.

Success would bring one of the most important economic boosts in a generation but achieving that means presenting a solid political force, the head of public affairs at VisitBritain said.

Bernard Donoghue told the Belfast Telegraph: “The cities shortlisted are a really interesting mix. For the winner it will be the most important political and economic event that will have happened to them in years.

“VisitBritian does not represent Northern Ireland. Speaking in more general terms, a city which has a united political leadership behind its bid is most likely to economically and socially benefit from that.”

Earlier this week the bid team launched an initiative to encourage Derry’s residents to get involved in the “Share Your Story” campaign.

But political schisms have peppered the opening stages of the bidding, with Sinn Fein calling for the “UK” element of the title to be dropped.

The DUP’s Gregory Campbell has also waded into a row over the Londonderry/Derry after it emerged a decision over a name change would be left until after the election. He claimed the divide over the name change would present judges with a “nonsensical” situation.

Sheffield, Norwich and Birmingham are also in the running for the 2013 title and, although there is no government funding attached to the award, experts claim it would inject around £800m into the local economy.

Final bids must be submitted by May 28 .

Belfast Telegraph

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