PUBLIC SECT0R: Twelve cities enter bids to be 2008 EU culture capital

Twelve city councils have submitted bids to land the title European Capital of Culture for 2008, launching a fierce communications drive to convince both judges and their local communities of the merits of their campaigns.

The 12 cities that have confirmed they will tender are: Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Canterbury and East Kent, Cardiff, Inverness and the Highlands, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead, Norwich and Oxford.

To land the accolade, cities must demonstrate that they are capable of staging a year-long cultural programme, in addition to highlighting social and economic gains that could be made if they won the title.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove Council, one of the front-runners for the title, said its PR efforts would be co-ordinated through in-house work from its own communications team and the donation of help from local agency Midnight Communications.

He added that local communications efforts would focus on displaying the economic benefit of winning the title, which is estimated at bringing an extra £140m in tourism revenue to the city.

On average, bids will cost cities between £250,000 and £500,000; most cities have begun comms work to persuade local firms to provide the bulk of the funding.

Some councils, for example Liverpool City Council, have already teamed up with local businesses.

The decision on the successful UK city will be made by December 2003.

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