City of Culture: Leicester 'disappointed but defiant'

The Leicester City of Culture 2017 bid team hear the news Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby (left) said he was "desperately disappointed" to lose the bid

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A defiant Mayor of Leicester has said the city does not "need to wait" to celebrate its culture following the announcement it lost out to Hull in its bid to become UK City of Culture 2017.

A "desperately disappointed" Peter Soulsby congratulated Hull and said it perhaps needed the regeneration more.

He said he had previously believed Leicester was not up for the bid but had been proved wrong in recent months.

He said many of the planned events would happen anyway.

"We don't need to wait until 2017 to show ourselves off," Sir Peter said. "We are going to do it now."

'Best on earth'

Sir Peter was speaking at a special ceremony at the Curve theatre in the city's Cultural Quarter.

At the scene

There were lots of disappointed faces all trying to look brave at the Curve after the announcement that Hull won the City of Culture bid.

There is a feeling that maybe Leicester's cultural offering was almost too strong and perhaps Hull needed it more.

If Leicester had won there would have been some incredible events and very exciting projects in the city.

But the Mayor has said that some of the events which formed part of the bid may go ahead anyway in 2014.

"We here in Leicester are desperately disappointed. The first thing of course to do is congratulate Hull, we do wish them well for their year as City of Culture," he said.

But he said there had always been a plan B which would see many of the events due to be put on during the City of Culture year of 2017 happen anyway.

He also said the city had much to celebrate in the next couple of years with upcoming events including the opening of the Richard III museum and matches in the Rugby World Cup.

"I just think that perhaps, at the second time of trying, Hull were seen to demonstrate they were able to get a shot in the arm [from the City of Culture] that maybe Leicester doesn't need, in the opinion of the judges," Sir Peter said.

"We were saying 'yes, we are brilliant but we've got a long way to go'. I think [the judges] may have felt we can get there by other means."

Manjula Sood, assistant mayor and chairman of Leicester Council of Faiths, said she was in a "state of disbelief".

"Globally we are known as the best multicultural city on earth," she said. "The people of Leicester will be very upset."

Martin Traynor from Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce denied losing out would hit the city's economy.

"We had great expectations of what it could bring [economically] but there is also an opportunity to build on what we have now got in the cultural events we are going to put forward," he said.

"It might not be as great as we were hoping for but I still think we can make a difference [to the economy]."

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