CULTURE Secretary Nadine Dorries has received a last-minute plea to shortlist Southampton for the title City of Culture 2025.

Royston Smith, Tory MP for Southampton Itchen, put the city's case for the prestigious accolade at a meeting with Ms Dorries.

The shortlist will be announced this week, with the winner declared in May.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Smith said: "I went through the bid with the Secretary of State and highlighted just what it would mean to a city like Southampton.

"The government’s levelling up agenda cannot be about geography, it must be about opportunity.

"A successful City of Culture bid will put Southampton on the map and attract investment and jobs for our young people as well as leaving a lasting legacy.”

Mr Smith said Ms Dorries was "sympathetic" to the challenges facing Southampton having seen similar ones growing up in Liverpool.

He added: "I feel very optimistic about our chances of being shortlisted. Of course, if we are we are going to have to work even harder to win.”