Town of Culture Award

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:59 pm on 23rd January 2019.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn 4:59 pm, 23rd January 2019

Absolutely. My right hon. Friend knows that we are focused on transport, the economy, jobs, businesses and the regeneration of our town centres, but culture and activities celebrating our history and what happens in towns are linked to all those things, because they bring people in to spend.

Two of my favourite cities in the United Kingdom—Hull, where I went to university, and Liverpool, where I was born—have recently been part of the city of culture programme. The city of Hull estimates that that programme generated £60 million in 2017 alone from visitor income and additional drive. It generated 800 new jobs, 5 million visitors and £220 million of additional investment in Hull. After Liverpool was city of culture, 44% of its residents expressed a positive response to the programme. It made them feel proud of where they lived—perhaps even more so than things have in the past. I am very proud of where I was born and I am very proud of where I live now, but the city of culture gave the people of Liverpool an energy that could be translated into action and used to create jobs.

Towns are extremely important. I do not want to take up too much time, because I know many Members want to speak, but I cannot resist mentioning the four towns in my constituency as examples of the potential benefit of a town of culture award. Flint, where I live, has a population of 13,000 people. It was founded around a castle built in 1277. That castle is still there. It is a historical monument that people could and should visit. It was the scene of the deposition of Richard II, who was put on trial in Westminster Hall. The whole second act of Shakespeare’s “Richard II” is set in Flint castle, and that play has been performed in the castle. We have had festivals, we have had choirs—male and female—and we had the Eisteddfod in 1969. Even Tom Cruise’s great-great-grandfather came from Flint, which shows that people can aspire to achieve in the arts. There is a Turner painting of Flint castle, which—believe it or not—has never been to Flint. It is currently in a gallery in London. If Flint won the town of culture award, that painting could be brought to Flint to be seen on a regular basis.