Wakefield's City of Culture bid labelled 'embarrassing' by Liberal Democrats

Wakefield's failed City of Culture bid has been derided as "embarrassing" and a waste of cash by the local Liberal Democrats.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 12:45 pm
The council launched its bid for the 2025 City of Culture shortly before the deadline for entries passed.

The district council has pledged to hold its own year of culture in 2024, after missing out on the longlist for the official UK title for 2025.

Lib Dem group leader Tom Gordon said the bid amounted to a Labour "vanity project".

The local authority's Labour leader dismissed Councillor Gordon as 'Mr Negative'.

Councillor Tom Gordon suggested the bid was a vanity project.

Speaking at a full council meeting on Wednesday, Coun Gordon said: "I actually find it embarrassing that a last minute bid was stuck in by this council, which was too little, too late.

"Other cities have been working on this for two years."

Coun Gordon accused the council of "stepping on the toes" of neighbours Bradford, who had also entered the bidding process and have made the longlist.

He added: "We saw all this bluster about how we were going to win and how we wouldn't take no for an answer. It's clear the council's now attempting damage control after spending tens, if not thousands of pounds.

The council has pledged to hold its own year of culture in 2024, to compensate for missing out on the official title.

"It shows how hopelessly out of touch Labour councillors are with the working class people of this district.

"Vanity projects come after getting the basics right."

Labour disputed Coun Gordon's suggestion about the amount of money spent on the process.

Cabinet member for culture Coun Michael Graham said the bid had cost precisely £6,058.58.

He added: "I can't tell you how much this bid has ignited a fire underneath the people of this district and how they're really enthused and engaged and they want to sell this district.

"Some councillors in this room are sat waiting for the next lightbulb to go out so they can go on Facebook and say the council is failing.

"I don't care if Bradford wins or loses, I'm here for the people of Wakefield.

"All the work we've put into the bid will be used and I'm extremely excited about 2024. I'm really disappointed other people aren't."

Addressing Coun Gordon directly, council leader Denise Jeffery said: "You never seem to want to support anything the council does.

"You're always Mr Negative.

"We put the bid in because we felt we had an opportunity of winning.

"I'm thrilled that we had the ambition for Wakefield."

Local Democracy Reporting Service