Dundee is one of only four UK cities to have made it on to the final shortlist competing for the prestigious City of Culture status in 2017.
A joint English bid by Hastings and Bexhill-on-Sea was amongst the seven entries which failed to make the final four.
And Clive Galbraith, chairman of Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce, was today accused of “ill-informed petty naming calling” after dismissing the bid by the City of Discovery in his column for the local Bexhill-based newspaper.
Mr Galbraith, who is chairman of the Green Insurance Group, declared in his column for the Bexhill Observer: “While we may have lost out on the City of Culture 2017 bid to the good burghers of Hull, Leicester, Swansea (and some token Scottish dump) it matters not, for we will carry on anyway.”
Stewart Hosie, the SNP MP for Dundee East, has now written to Mr Galbraith, demanding to know why he singled out Dundee for ridicule. And he has invited the chamber of commerce boss to visit Dundee to help him revise his”unflattering and ill-informed” view of the city.
Mr Hosie said:: “I hope that Mr Galbraith will have time during his holidays to reflect on the error of his ways. I also hope that he will take up our invite and come to Dundee to see the wide range of cultural activities taking place which make our bid such a strong contender.”
Mr Hosie states in his letter to Mr Galbraith: “It was with enormous disappointment and some bemusement that I learned that in your column in the 5 July 2013 edition of The Bexhill Observer, when dealing with the successfully shortlisted nominees in the search for UK City of Culture 2017, you chose to dismiss one as ‘some token Scottish dump’.
“It would be interesting to know your reason for choosing to single out the city of Dundee for characterisation in such uniquely disparaging terms, but I am prepared to believe that such petty name-calling is an aberration borne of disappointment resulting from the failure of the Hastings-Bexhill bid to proceed to the next stage of the competition, and is not indicative of your general approach to matters concerning commerce and economic development.”
He continues: “I am sure that in your role as chair of your local Chamber of Commerce you will be aware of Dundee’s leading role at the forefront of life sciences innovation, as one of the UK’s leading
biotechnology clusters and a main centre for the UK video games industry.
“In addition to our two world-class universities, there is Scotland’s only full-time resident company of actors at Dundee Rep Theatre, which is also home to Scotland’s national contemporary dance company, the award-winning Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre and McManus Galleries, while the city’s exciting role as the future home of V&A Dundee, in a world-class building on the waterfront, underlines its already significant position as a powerhouse of the culture and heritage scene.”
Mr Hosie concludes: “The people of Dundee are proud of our city and I am happy to facilitate a visit, which I am confident will lead you to revise your unflattering and ill-informed view of what we have to offer, and why we are a real and worthy contender to be awarded the accolade of the 2017 title. I look forward to hearing from you, and to welcoming you to the city of Dundee.”
Councillor Ken Guild, the leader of Dundee City Council and chair of the Dundee Partnership, said: “I am ignoring these remarks. We made it very clear when we went into the competition that we would ignore our competitors and concentrate on what we had to offer and play to our strengths. We are ignoring the others who are still in the competition and I am certainly not going to get concerned about someone who has already been knocked out.”
Asked if he would be willing to meet the chamber chairman, he added: “I would be happy to welcome anyone to Dundee.”
Mr Galbraith was on annual leave today and unavailable for comment. But he contacted Mr Hosie to assure the MP that his comments were “entirely light-hearted” and based on a “Pythonesque theme” running in the local paper.
He added: “I would be delighted if Dundee won and will explain my comment better when I return.”
Final three chase £10k Dundee book prize
THE three finalists, shortlisted for the 2013 Dundee International Book Prize, have been announced – with a publishing deal and £10,000 cash for the winner.
This year’s finalists are a community worker in an ex-mining community in Belgium, a former soldier turned wild animal preserve manager and a Dublin-born former Leverhulme Writer in Residence.
Debut novels from Jeff Hayden, Colette Victor and Nicola White have chosen from the list of 350 entries to reach the final stage by the judging panel comprising Brian Cox, Lorraine Kelly, Norman Foster, Clare Alexander and AL Kennedy.
A publishing deal with Cargo Publishing and £10,000 – the largest cash prize for unpublished work in the UK – will be awarded to the winner.
Peggy Hughes, of Literary Dundee, said: “We’re really excited by the final three in this fantastic year for the Dundee International Book Prize. We had a huge number of strong entries.
“We can’t wait to see which one our judges pick to take this year’s title.”
Read more on Dundee’s City of Culture bid