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Leicester awaits UK City of Culture 2017 shortlist decision

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Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth has said it would be a travesty if the city did not make it onto a shortlist of contenders to become UK City of Culture 2017. Tomorrow the Government is set to whittle down the 11 rivals hoping to succeed Londonderry in Northern Ireland which is the current holder of the title. Four areas from Leicester, Aberdeen, Dundee, East Kent, Hastings and Bexhill on Sea, Hull, Portsmouth and Southampton, Plymouth, Chester, Southend on Sea, and Swansea Bay will be selected to go forward to a second round of judging based on initial 30 page bid documents. Mr Ashworth, who has spoken in support of Leicester's bid in a Parliamentary debate, said: "I think Leicester's case to be City of Culture is overwhelming. "It would be a travesty if Leicester did not make it onto the shortlist. "I have attended a number of festivals in my own patch recently all organised from the grass roots up that show culture is thriving in the city." City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby is expecting a phone call at about 11am informing him if Leicester has made the cut. He and other members of the consortium will be awaiting the decision at De Montfort Hall. He said: "I am hoping for good news. I have read our bid and I know our city so I find it hard to imagine Leicester would not be on the shortlist. "I would be very disappointed if we don't make the next round." Leading bookies William Hill have Leicester in joint second place to win the title outright alongside Chester at odds of 5/1. Chester had been favourite but has now been superceded by Swansea Bay at 4/1. Hull is fourth favourite at 6/1. William Hill's Joe Crilly said: "A decision on the shortlist is expected on Wednesday and the gamble on Swansea would certainly suggest that there is at least one city already on that list. Mr Ashworth said he had heard nothing from Department of Culture Media and Sport about the final four cities. Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival founder Geoff Rowe, a member of the consortium, said: "I'm not a betting man. I think the odds will be constantly changing until the winner is eventually known. "I am really confident in Leicester's bid but we have not seen any of the others yet." So far the only details of Leicester's bid to be revealed are that it is to involve a mass-participation production of the Richard III story and a movable light show. The four areas selected for the next round will have to produce a detailed bid including a programme of events. The Government has said such a bid would likely need to cost £10 million. Sir Peter has agreed to underwrite the sum though it expected the Arts Council and other nation public bodies will support the winner. The mayor has argued that winning the contest will draw in tourists and the benefit to the local economy would far outweigh the initial cost.

Leicester awaits UK City of Culture 2017 shortlist decision


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