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Hull claims City of Culture title

Hull has been named the next UK City of Culture and started work on a multi-million pound programme to bring the city "out of the shadows".

It saw off co mpetition from rival bids by Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay to win the accolade which is handed out every four years.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said the announcement could "produce a wonderful mix of inward investment, and civic pride" for the city.

TV producer Phil Redmond, who chaired the advisory panel that helped choose the winner, said all four shortlisted cities showed a "real understanding" of what the award was about.

He said: " But ultimately it was the unanimous verdict of the panel that Hull put forward the most compelling case based on its theme as 'a city coming out of the shadows'. 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 and I'd like to congratulate all involved."

The current city of culture, Londonderry, has seen visitor numbers double over the course of this year and has had a round £120 million of capital investment pumped into the city since the title was won in 2009.

The leader of Hull City Council, Councillor Stephen Brady, told the BBC: " What I'm saying is thank you to the panel for changing Hull. Never again will Hull have the reputation that some people have put on it in the past.

"The people here, the wonderful people of Hull, appreciate what's been done, the decision that's been taken and we are on the move".

Hull's plan for 2017 includes an opening ceremony with 3,000 volunteers paying tribute to its heritage as a major fishing port, a light show and the planting of thousands of trees to create "sustainable gateways to the city".

The council admits one of the aims of the bid is to "change the perceptions" of the city.

It i s often derided - up until this year regularly featuring in the satirical book Crap Towns - and last month an Economist article cited Hull as one of "Britain's Decaying Towns".

The magazine said it was among a list of northern towns and cities that were "decaying, despite dollops of public money and years of heroic effort" and urged ministers to help people move away or commute from these towns to places where there are more jobs.

Former Hull MP Lord Prescott tweeted " It's Happy Hour again! HullYes Well done" - a reference to the 1986 top three hit by the Housemartins, who formed in Hull.

Perhaps the city's most famous cultural connection is the poet Philip Larkin who lived and worked in Hull as a librarian for many years.

The city's music scene has produced names including guitarist Mick Ronson, who regularly backed David Bowie, and indie duo Everything But The Girl.

Billy Liar star Sir Tom Courtenay and actress Maureen Lipman are both from Hull.

VisitEngland's chief executive, James Berresford, said the announcement was "fantastic".

" This cultural badge of honour is a tremendous opportunity for Hull to thrive as a tourist destination and attract important inward investment, and VisitEngland looks forward to helping with this," he said.

"I wish Hull all the best in maximising the potential of the city's cultural heritage and look forward to the many celebrations and events to come as a result."

Former Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson, who holds the ceremonial post of High Steward of Hull, said it would give "a huge lift" to the city.

" I have felt it was going Hull's way for some time but there was always a risk of success being snatched away at the last minute," he said.

"Hull will rise to the occasion and the great opportunity the city has been given."

Ms Miller arrived in Hull where she was greeted by bands and dancing on the railway station concourse.

The Secretary of State was even persuaded to play the maracas in the drum band as she was surrounded by well-wishers.

On the platform she praised Hull, saying: "It's a city that really wants to come out of the shadows.

"It's got a fantastic cultural offering and, based on the plans for the future, I think it will be putting Hull centre stage as a real destination for people not just here in the UK but also for people visiting from abroad."

She walked the short distance to the Hull Truck Theatre where she was greeted with applause before watching a rehearsal for tonight's production of Out Of His Skin by the 2Faced Dance Company.

Lord Mandelson, high steward of Kingston upon Hull, said: "I am thrilled for Hull. It is thoroughly deserved and will give a huge lift to the city.

"I have felt it was going Hull's way for some time but there was always a risk of success being snatched away at the last minute.

"Hull will rise to the occasion and the great opportunity the city has been given."


From Belfast Telegraph