SOUTHAMPTON businesses have banded together in support of the UK City of Culture bid.

Today, judges will visit the city as they decide the winner of the UK City of Culture title for 2025.

In a show of unity, which has helped to propel Southampton onto the shortlist of the final four, local people are lending their support to deliver the bid’s campaign pledge to 'Make it SO!'.

Local 'legend' and ambassador for Southampton’s bid Mr Kuti, who runs his eponymous Indian brasserie from the iconic location of the Royal Pier, will be providing all the linen for the lunch.

Meanwhile, the transport for the visit which will see the judges being taken to all four corners of Southampton will be provided by city bus operator Bluestar together with a range of all-electric cars from Hendy Group, which has dealerships across Southampton and beyond.

Mr Kuti, who has been running restaurants in Southampton for more than 40 years, is an important figure in the Asian community.

He said: “We’re all so excited about the prospect of bringing the City of Culture to Southampton.

"My family have been here for two generations now and we have received nothing but respect, love and warmth from everyone here. We are proud to call it home.”

Bluestar’s managing director Andrew Wickham said: “Bluestar has a long history in Southampton, serving the city with comprehensive bus services, and we are proud to have become a recognisable and well-established member of the local community."

Companies like PR consultancy Lee Peck Media and Thomas Miller Creative have also used their expertise to help showcase the city.

Mohammed Sumra is the Southampton City Council trade representative for Hackney Carriage drivers. He said: “Taxi drivers are seen as the heartbeat of a city, and I’m told are often very talkative.

"So, you can rest assured our drivers are fully behind the bid and delighted to be spreading the word.

"My friends and colleagues have had a very difficult two years because of the pandemic but winning the City of Culture title will give them such a boost. We’re all really excited at the prospect - good luck Southampton."