Brexit won’t kill Milton Keynes’ European City of Culture bid

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We may be out of the EU, but Milton Keynes Council still plans to spend millions on battling to become a European Capital of Culture.

The Brexit vote will not make a scrap of difference to the plan, said council leader Pete Marland this week.

“Even when we leave the EU, which may not be for years, we will still be part of Europe, so therefore we are entitled to bid,” he told the Citizen.

Councillors agreed unanimously a year ago to start putting together a £150,000 bid for when the European Capital of Culture status is awarded in 2023.

If successful, the city’s year of culture would cost a total of £50m.

Some £6m would come from council coffers, while the remainder would be gleaned from private investment and arts and culture organisations, said Mr Marland.

Preparation of the bid itself will cost the council between £750,000 and £1m a year during the six year run-up to shortlisting.

Mr Marland said: “It would most certainly be worthwhile as it’s a proven fact that for every pound that is spent on tourism and culture, many, many more pounds are mad.

“Milton Keynes is already positioning itself as an international city. This is about our growth and prosperity and our relationship with our neighbours.”

The bid will highlight Milton Keynes International festival, MK Gallery, Arts Central,. Bletchley Park and MK Museum. The concrete cows will play an important part as the city’s most famous artwork.

Mr Marland is confident the UK’s controversial stance will not affect MK’s chances.

“Norway has a European capital of culture and they’re not in the EU. There is no reason we can’t be a European destination city,” he said.