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Southampton is taking on Europe for a £4m cash prize
ROME, Barcelona, Vienna, Berlin and... Southampton.
They are five of the 155 European cities battling it out to win a £4million jackpot.
The Daily Echo can reveal that civic chiefs have launched a bid to win the Mayor’s Challenge, which will see them compete against cities from across the continent for the cash prize.
And if Southampton does win the prize, residents, community leaders and business figures from across the city will have a say on what it is spent on, as part of the commemoration of the 50 years of its city status.
Launched by Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former Mayor of New York, the competition is designed to fund innovative ideas to improve cities.
Across the continent, 155 cities from 28 countries have applied to win the €5million (or about £4.1million) first prize, or one of four runner-up prizes of €1million.
More than 300 cities took part in the first competition, which took place in the USA in 2012-13.
The winner was Providence Talks in Rhode Island, which has used its cash prize to launch a new programme to improve literacy in deprived neighbourhoods.
If Southampton wins, council bosses say people from across the city would be able to choose what the jackpot is spent on, through the 50 pledges being made to mark the 50th anniversary of city status.
They say it would have a “lasting impact” on the city by allowing the communities themselves to decide what the best improvements could be.
A spokesman said: “This is a really exciting opportunity and naturally we would be delighted to obtain funding through the Mayor’s Challenge.
“If we were successful this would be used to fund activities identified by individuals and communities as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the city, and would make important improvement to community engagement, aspirations and a shared vision for Southampton.”
But to win the jackpot Southampton is up against cities from every region of Europe – from Berlin, Rome and Brussels to the Albanian capital Tirana and the Lithuanian city of Kaunas.
And Bournemouth, Bristol, London and Manchester are among the 29 UK cities taking part.
Twenty cities will be picked to contest the final round in the next few months, with those finalists being invited to Brussels to a two-day event where they will work with experts to fine-tune their proposals.
They will then hand in revised applications in the summer, and the winners will be announced in the autumn.
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