Paisley is set to shine in the international spotlight after the town’s plans for an ambitious bid for UK City of Culture status in 2021 were given the green light.
Renfrewshire councillors today gave a unanimous seal of approval to the bid, intended to be a catalyst for a transformation of the area’s future.
The tilt at the national title is part of far-reaching regeneration plans unveiled a year ago this week, aimed at using Paisley’s unique heritage to put the town on the map as a cultural and tourist destination.
Paisley is the only Scottish place to declare its candidacy so far – and the area’s council leader says the bid will showcase everything the town has to offer.
Councillor Mark Macmillan said: “For its size, Paisley’s contribution to the world is absolutely massive and we have a list of assets to be proud of.
“We have a globally-recognised brand bearing our name in the Paisley Pattern, as well as an outstanding collection of listed buildings as the physical legacy of our days at the centre of the world’s textile industry.
“We also have an outstanding location and transport links, are home to a highly-regarded university, and have a thriving contemporary cultural scene, and all of that and more will feature in what we believe will be a strong bid.
“At the same time, we can’t and won’t hide from the fact Paisley has challenges – but the UK City of Culture process is about building the economic and community capacity to face those challenges and make a far-reaching social impact.
“Previous winners have been cities with a clear plan for how the title would help them boost their area and community – and when our bid is made in 2017 we will be ready to once again sell Paisley to the world.”
The UK City of Culture competition is run by the UK Government’s Department of Culture Media and Sport and concentrates a series of national events in one place in a single year to encourage regeneration and tourism and strengthen communities.
Derry-Londonderry was the first city to host the title in 2013, and Hull will host the 2017 edition, during which the 2021 winner will be announced.
Although Paisley does not have city status, the competition is open to large towns and urban areas. There has never before been a Scottish winner.
Today’s meeting saw councillors discuss the plans and vote to set up a cross-party Paisley City of Culture Partnership Board with key figures from throughout the Renfrewshire community.
That body will be chaired by the council leader and will feature the depute leader, opposition group leaders, and the chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, as well as business, educational and community representatives.
Cllr Macmillan added: “The bid will be run by the people of Paisley, for the people of Paisley, and will require all the talent and expertise the town can offer.
“And while the bid is focussed on Paisley’s assets, the whole area will benefit as the economic and social benefits will spread throughout all of Renfrewshire.
“We are excited about the journey that lies ahead and the opportunities for Paisley and Renfrewshire that it offers.”