Nowhere in the UK is there an urban area of comparable size – 77,000 people – that has such a rich architectural, industrial and social history and that once mattered so much to the world.
Renfrewshire Council and its partners have announced their intention to bid for 2021 City of Culture status. The contest requires applications to be lodged in 2017, with the winner to be announced that year.
The ambitious plan received a boost when leaders of neighbouring local authorities working on the £1.13bn Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal project agreed to give their support.
Members of the City Deal Cabinet heard a report presented by Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan which outlined the full extent of Paisley’s ambitions – and agreed to work together on any opportunities which could help Paisley clinch the title.
The eight City Deal councils are Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire.
East Renfrewshire Council leader Jim Fletcher said: “We wish Paisley all the best with its UK City of Culture ambitions and are ready to support Renfrewshire Council if we can.
“The UK City of Culture title would bring international attention and a programme of massive UK-wide events from which the economic benefits would reach the entire West of Scotland region, including East Renfrewshire.
“We are already working closely with our partner councils on issues through the City Deal, and this is another good opportunity to do so.”
Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said: “Paisley is known around the globe thanks to the shawls and the pattern which bears its name – now we want to tell the town’s unique story to the world once again.
“Our bid for UK City of Culture 2021 will pull together all of that rich history as well as everything which makes the town great today – such as our central location and links, top-class university, and thriving contemporary cultural scene.
So far, Paisley is the only Scottish city to have announced its intention to bid for the City of Culture contest, run by the UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes has released odds for the competition — with Paisley rated as 4/1 third-favourite of 10 potential candidates, just behind 2/1 market leaders Coventry.
Cardiff is rated as 3/1 second favourites but it is understood the Welsh capital is not planning to submit a bid. Other cities who have publicly said they will bid include Sunderland (8/1), Hereford (12/1) and Worcester (12/1).
Ladbrokes have also listed Aberdeen (6/1), Plymouth (10/1), Milton Keynes (16/1) and Southend (20/1) although none have confirmed their intention to bid for 2021.
Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan reckons the news is proof of Paisley’s potential, saying: “We always knew Paisley had a good chance of winning – and these odds show we are being taken seriously.
“The bookies would only open a market on this after extensive research into the candidate cities and how they measure up against the criteria – so it is encouraging to see that research has us near the top of the list.
“Sometimes Paisley has suffered from negative perceptions and maybe it’s easy for residents to lose sight of what has been produced right here on our doorsteps.”
Renfrewshire Council is seeking to appoint a 'UK City of Culture – Project Director' to lead the development and submission of the bid in 2017.