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Wells launches bid to become UK's City of Culture

Wells has launched its bid to become the UK's next City of Culture. Credit: ITV News

Wells has officially launched its bid to become the UK's next City of Culture. If the Somerset City is successful it will adopt the title in 2021 - taking over from the current UK City of Culture Hull.

Hull has seen it's tourism economy increase by 10 per cent since becoming City of Culture. Those organising Wells' bid are hoping it will do the same for Somerset.

Wells follows on from Hull which is the current City of Culture. Credit: ITV News

You could be talking about £130 million coming back into the Somerset economy, and an extra 250 million visitors annually if we were successful."

– John Turner, Visit Somerset
It's hoped the bid will bring a boost in tourism for the Somerset city. Credit: ITV News

There are 11 towns and cities in competition for the title which comes with a £3 million grant from the heritage lottery fund.

With a population of 10,000, Wells is the smallest city in England - but not the smallest on the list. It's up against Wales' smallest City St Davids.

Here's a list of the contenders:

  • Perth
  • Paisley
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sunderland
  • Coventry
  • Hereford
  • Warrington
  • Portsmouth
  • Wells
  • Swansea
  • St. Davids
The city must prove its heritage plays an important part in its modern culture. Credit: ITV News

To win the title a city has to prove that its heritage still plays an important part in its modern day culture.

Wells is hoping attractions like its famous cathedral and medieval Bishop's Palace will help its bid.

The proposal will be centred on Wells but will also include the local towns of Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Cheddar, Street, Bruton, Frome and Castle Cary, along with the local rural area.

Gardens in Wells. Credit: ITV News

Wells MP James Heappey says the biggest challenge will be to use culture to bring Somerset's various communities together.

I think Wells offers something very different to all the other cities of culture previously because they have all been about post-industrial regeneration.

I think that Wells' bid should focus on the challenge of bringing together a distributed rural community, the challenge that we've got of loneliness, vulnerable people, particularly the elderly living in the city itself and the villages that surround it."

– James Heappey MP, Con Wells
Attractions like Wells Cathedral and Bishop's Palace should help its bid. Credit: ITV News

Some of the grant money will go towards improving existing social outreach projects like the community gardens at the Bishop's Palace.

Matt Goatcher came here to help him recover rom a long illness, and he says it turned his life around.