Paisley has lost out on the title of UK City of Culture in 2021 to Coventry.

The announcement was made live on BBC One from Hull, which currently holds the title.

Paisley 2021 enjoyed cross-party political support, as well as support from businesses and residents. Below we bring you some reactions following the result.

Jean Cameron, Paisley 2021 bid director, said: “We are of course heartbroken not to win the title as we know how much the people of the town poured into this – but at the same time those hearts are bursting with pride at what Paisley achieved in the past two years.

“Our warmest congratulations go to Coventry – they pulled together a really impressive body of support from their partners and we wish them all the best for 2021.

“We also want to thank DCMS and the judging panel for giving us the chance to show the world what makes Paisley special – taking part in the competition was a really positive experience for everyone.

Photo: Rugby club president and MP Gavin Newlands and Jean Cameron Project Director at Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid at intu Braehead, who are sponsors of Paisley Rugby club’s new shirts

“More than 34,000 people – equivalent to almost half of Paisley’s population – added their voices and ideas to the town’s bid….and our thanks go to every single one of you for an incredible effort and those ideas will still be taken forward.

“We are proud to be the only town to ever make the shortlist and by some distance the smallest place to ever get this far in the competition – few places of Paisley’s size can claim to have given the world so much over the years, and the town punched above its weight once again.

“Our bid was based on a belief that culture changes people’s lives, and that by harnessing that power while promoting what sets us apart, Paisley can change its future for the better – and the people of the town made that vision their own over the past two years.

“The incredible energy they created and the new partnerships they have formed will still be channelled in that direction. The next chapter in our story is only just beginning.”



Renfrewshire Council Leader and chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board Councillor Iain Nicolson added: “We were very much in it to win it – but the disappointment of missing out is eased by knowing how much stronger we are for taking part.

“The bid was part of a bigger plan to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage assets to make it a key destination for visitors and events while reigniting the creativity spark which is in our DNA – and while winning the bid would have accelerated the journey, that journey will continue.

“The bid boosted Paisley’s reputation, created new awareness of why we matter to Scotland, the UK, and the world, and raised our profile to unprecedented levels, while giving locals a reason to believe in Paisley again.

“We now have a platform from which to attract the type of footfall, investment and partnership we couldn’t have attracted before – something which is already happening as a result of the bid, with Paisley seeing a 25% rise in both visitors and event attendees in 2016.

“Work to revitalise our town centre and economy is already happening– with a £110 million investment in the town centre and our venues under way, and £276 million of major infrastructure projects taking place in Renfrewshire as part of the Glasgow Region City Deal over the next decade.

“We are also reinventing our textile heritage for the 21st century while bringing more visitors here by building on our already-successful events programme and launching a new destination brand in 2018.

“And the £1 million Renfrewshire Culture, Heritage and Events Fund has allowed the local community to define culture on their own terms – and that remains as a key legacy of the bid process.

“We thank everybody who played a role in making this happen – because Team Paisley can from here still achieve great things.”

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said: “Even though I am bitterly disappointed that Paisley has not been named as the UK City of Culture, losing out at the final stages, I couldn’t be more proud of the journey that our town has been on in the past two years.

“This journey has brought Paisley together and given Buddies a sense of pride in their town once again. At the start of this process we were rank outsiders and no one gave our town a chance. Well, the Paisley campaign shocked everyone, we caught the imagination of people throughout the UK and came within a whisker of winning this competition.

Mr Newlands had played an active part in the Paisley 2021 campaign, regularly raising the issue at Westminster, including hosting a parliamentary function in the House of Commons, as well as bringing together all of Scotland’s Westminster-based politicians in support of the Paisley 2021 campaign.

“Paisley’s campaign doesn’t end here, the momentum built up must continue regardless of today’s decision. Paisley Buddies will still continue to make their mark on the international stage, showing the world how great our town is.”


Video: Coventry crowds appear to be happy to have been cornwed UK City of Culture 2021

Mhairi Black, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, said: “Unfortunately Paisley was unsuccessful in securing the title of UK City of Culture in 2021. As saddened as I am by this, the enthusiasm that has captured the town over the last two years must not be forgotten. We will continue to show that Paisley is a vibrant, exciting and cultured town with lots to offer.

“Paisley may have been seen an underdog in the competition but we punched above our weight to reach the late stages of the process. We have engaged people throughout the UK with the Paisley 2021 bid and we must continue with the enthusiasm we have shown going forward. Paisley is a fantastic town with innovative people, be proud Paisley.”




Renfrewshire North & West SNP MSP Derek Mackay said: “While I am disappointed Paisley has not won, everyone involved should be very proud of the bid presented.

“The bid has captured the imagination of local people, with local businesses reporting increased footfall and sales. Despite the clear disappointment, it is important we take the positives from the bid campaign and build on the wonderful work already done.”

West College Scotland Principal, Audrey Cumberford, who is also a member of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, said:

“As a key supporter we are absolutely convinced that the bid process itself has been inspirational and provides the foundations for a cultural, economic and reputational transformation of the town. The entire project has been uplifting and has united the town and wider community. It has given us all a glimpse of how culture can improve Paisley in so many ways.

“This is not the end of the journey.  As one of the town’s main institutions, with a presence spanning more than seventy-years, we remain committed to seeing to fruition the many outstanding ambitions outlined in the bid.

“It is our hope that these will be complemented by our own exciting plans to redevelop our Paisley campus into a centre for excellence for teaching and learning, as well as a state-of-the-art hub for local businesses and communities.”

Labour MSP for the West of Scotland, Neil Bibby said: “The announcement is obviously bitterly disappointing for Paisley, and in particular for all the Bid team staff and community groups who put their hearts and souls into the Paisley 2021 project.

“While the final result might hurt, we should hold our heads up high and be very proud with how far our town made it in this contest. And every Paisley buddy can share that pride.

“I would like to congratulate Coventry on winning the award. Being a UK wide contest meant we were up against very strong competition from across Britain and getting to final five shortlist is still a huge achievement that we should not lose sight of.

“Despite just missing out, Paisley is still a winner. The Paisley 2021 bid has helped put our town back on the map once again. Paisley Buddies and organisations have also made many friends and links with other towns and cities across the UK.

“I believe we owe all those who have shaped the bid and helped take us this far a huge amount of thanks. At this time, it is important to recognise that there wouldn’t have been a bid at all without the vision and leadership of former Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, Bid Director Jean Cameron and all the Paisley 2021 staff and volunteers. It has also been fantastic to see thousands of Buddies get behind the bid over the past two years.

“It is now vital moving forward that we utilise the momentum and buzz the project has helped create. I hope and anticipate that Renfrewshire Council and the Scottish Government will still progress the ambitious plans that were part of the bid irrespective of the result. I look forward to working with them and local people to leave a lasting legacy from Paisley’s bid.”



Green MSP for the West of Scotland Ross Greer reacted to tonight’s announcement that Coventry was awarded City of Culture status, he said: “Everyone in Paisley can be proud of the brilliant campaign.

“Even though the town wasn’t selected, Paisley can rightly claim to be a city of culture. The bid has put Paisley on the map as a cultural hotspot with a proud history of industry and working class radicalism and I know that the hard work of the bid team will continue to reap benefits for the whole community. Congratulations to Coventry on their success.”

Renfrewshire Council Labour Group Leader, Councillor Eddie Devine added: “Despite this disappointing result, there are still a huge number of positives we can take from the Paisley 2021 bid. Our efforts to be crowned UK City of Culture 2021 not only united the whole of Paisley, but secured support up and down the country.

“Paisley was up against some fierce competition, but without the shared effort, and shared vision for our town, we would not have come as far as we have.

“It’s vital that we don’t accept this as the end of Paisley’s cultural journey, but merely the beginning. We can continue to celebrate our industrial heritage, our stunning architecture, and our talented Paisley buddies with pride, while also striving for the transformative change that our town needs.”