A bid to become the European Capital of Culture could bring at least £10million into Milton Keynes, it has been claimed.
So far Leeds, Plymouth and Dundee have thrown their hats in the ring to win the title that could see the city regenerated and its international profile raised – but at a cost.
Following a unanimous vote in council, £150,000 funding has been found to build a “quality bid” to get to the next stage of the competition.
If MK wins the overall bid, it will cost £35million to pay for the full programme of events. The council will only have to pay £5million of this over five years - but it is not yet known how the rest will be funded.
Conservative group leader Edith Bald said the “stakes were high” and asked for “full transparency” of costs from leader of the Council, Pete Marland.
He said: “If we are successful in winning a place just on the shortlist alone, it will bring at least £10m into MK.
“Winning would likely bring hundreds of millions of pounds into the local economy.
“We understand there may be concerns on what this will mean for services and why we would be doing this at a difficult time for local government, but we will only progress so long as we can both show the benefits of a bid and that other services would not be impacted.”
The bid, which will be submitted in 2016/17. has gained cross party support, with the Lib Dems describing the bid as a “natural development” for a city that “prides itself with vision and ambition to achieve and sustain a strong future.”
MK must show it has European dimension, cultural and artistic content and the capacity to deliver big events.
Cities which have made the shortlist will be announced in 2017, with final bids being made later that year before the winner is announced 2018.
A five-year plan will then be made in order to deliver more jobs, increase inward investment and give greater cultural opportunities for the diverse demographic by 2023.