LAW firm Paris Smith is backing Southampton's City of Culture 2025 bid by becoming a Premier Partner.

And managing director Peter Taylor says winning will be a game-changer for the city and the wider region.

"I really believe it's Southampton's time," he told the Echo. "The benefits of a successful bid will be really significant. It is very much a regional bid rather than just a city one."

More than 100 organisations have pledged support including Portsmouth in the east to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole in the west.

Paris Smith has been established in Southampton since 1818.

"After 203 years we feel very much welded to the fabric of the city and wider Hampshire," said Mr Taylor.

Of Southampton's culture he said it was fascinating and diverse, but the city had hidden its strengths and light under a bushel for too long.

"This is very much a competition but you have to go into it with clear ambition and a passion to win.

"There are no real prizes for being second.

"The team led by Clare Whittaker along with the stakeholders, all the partners and the wider community, everybody has their role to play in making this happen.

"My message to anyone who hasn't yet engaged is come and get involved. Every bit helps. Together we can achieve more."

Mr Taylor said winning City of Culture status would be immense in raising the spirit of Southampton.

"Now is Southampton's time. Heathrow is the UK hub of the air and we are the UK hub of the sea. It is the largest multi-functional port in the country and post-Covid, post-Brexit, we do have a strategic role to play for the nation and for the region.

"We are the largest economic hub south of London. We need to seize the opportunities.This could be transformational."