Paisley and Perth face nine rivals for UK City of Culture crown

Paolo Nutini has been among the high-profile backers of Paisley's bid.
Paolo Nutini has been among the high-profile backers of Paisley's bid.
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Perth and Paisley will face competition from nine other rival bids aiming to be crowned the UK’s next culture capital.

They will be up against the smallest cities in Wales and England - St David’s and Wells - in the race to be named UK City of Culture for 2021.

Coventry, Hereford, Portsmouth, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea and Warrington have also entered the fray in time for this week’s deadline.

Final bids must be lodged by the end of April, with a shortlist due to be announced in the summer and a winner due to be unveiled in December in Hull, when its reign - which is expected to be worth £60 million to the local economy - draws to a close.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged £3 million to the winner of the 2021 contest, but they must demonstrate their proposed programme is underpinned by heritage and buildings on existing backing from the agency.

The centrepiece of Perth’s bid will see the historic City Hall transformed into a new visual arts attraction, while Paisley Museum would be expanded under a proposed revamp.

Andrew Dunlop, the UK Government’s Minister for Scotland, said: "The UK City of Culture competition is a real opportunity for towns and cities to put themselves on the map, and it’s great news that two Scottish entries are in the running.

“I’ve seen the fantastic quality of the Perth and Paisley bids first hand, and wish them both the very best of luck. It would be a huge achievement to bring the prize to Scotland.”

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “This list shows there is clearly a great deal of enthusiasm among the UK’s cities for celebrating their unique culture.”