GET on the pitch, don’t sit on the sidelines.

That’s the message from a leading Southampton businessman on the bid for City of Culture 2025 status.

Nick Parbutt, boss of digital specialist toob is urging other companies to throw their weight behind the bid, financially or otherwise. Southampton is one of the eight finalists in the longlist announced by the government.

toob chief executive Nick Parbutt

toob chief executive Nick Parbutt

Nick’s business was the first to sign up as a City of Culture partner.

He said: “We are delighted to sign up right from the start. We see this as a long term thing.

“We are investing £50m into the city’s digital infrastructure and the more vibrant and successful the city, the better it is for us.

“Southampton has so much potential and the bid is a way to release that potential. It opens up huge opportunities and is the perfect way of showcasing the talent here.”

Mr Parbutt said winning the bid would bring even more pride in the city and would be good for everyone, with more investment and more visitors.

He added: “Whatever you are doing as a business and at whatever level you are operating, please get involved.

“This will only work if we all pull together.”

Mr Parbutt believes it’s tough out there at the moment, so it doesn’t have to be financial support. But the more backing the bid has, the better.

A successful outcome will help in the economic levelling up across the whole city.

Peter Taylor of Paris Smith, another key partner, said: “Our purpose is to enable our staff, clients and communities to thrive. The alignment of this with the City of Culture bid is very strong.

“We are committed to playing our part in the ambition to ensure that Southampton is a truly thriving global destination port city in which all who live and work in it can have a sense of pride.

“The city has its challenges in terms of areas of social deprivation and the need for levelling up. This requires the stakeholders, including the business community across the city, to collaborate to effect change for all.

“The City of Culture bid is a catalyst for this. The economic and social impact of a successful bid is unquestionable. It will benefit the wider region as that success spreads out from Southampton.”