THE ARTS Minister has said he can see the "pride" in Southampton as the city waits to hear if it has been named UK City of Culture 2025.

Lord Stephen Parkinson has praised Southampton following the judges’ visit on Friday.

The Under Secretary of State for arts has touted the benefits of winning the title, including more visitors and investment.

He previously visited the other three finalists, County Durham, Wrexham and Bradford, before venturing to Southampton on Monday.

READ MORE: City of Culture 2025: Judging panel visits Southampton

When discussing his visit to the city, he said: “It’s a real accolade for Southampton to be in the final four.

“We’ve had 20 places bidding to be City of Culture 2025 and this is the biggest competition we’ve ever run, so to make it through to the final shortlist is no mean feat.

“Southampton has got a fantastic heritage. How you can use that heritage and experience to inspire new generations is important.

Daily Echo: Dave Dodge PhotographyDave Dodge Photography

“It can inspire people in whatever industry to have confidence in themselves, interact with others but also have confidence in the city that they’re from.

“I feel that very strongly in Southampton’s bid. You can see that pride in place here.”

According to Lord Parkinson, claiming the City of Culture crown will greatly benefit Southampton.

READ NEXT: All the famous faces backing Southampton's City of Culture bid

He said: “We’ve seen from all the previous winners that being named the City of Culture has brought in visitors and tourists.

“It has increased investment, philanthropy, and private investment, but it has also inspired people to try new things, such as to set up businesses, join the creative industries and have a new perspective on life.

“That’s true not only for the cities that have gone on to win but for bidding cities as well.

“We’ve seen cities in the past who have bid and not made it but still been proud of the work they have done and it’s had a really good long-term legacy for them.

“I don’t envy the judging panel’s task – it’s going to be a very difficult decision.

“It has been brilliant to see the impact just getting through to this stage of the competition has had on Southampton and everyone involved should be very proud indeed.”

Lord Parkinson’s visit comes after competition judges explored the city last week.

READ MORE: Five places that prove Southampton should be crowned the City of Culture

Led by Chair Sir Phil Redmond CBE, the ten-person panel met community groups, creatives, artists, and businesses who are supporting the bid.

They visited iconic Southampton landmarks such as God’s House Tower and the Saints Pub in Millbrook and later enjoyed a lunch prepared by City College hospitality students, under the guidance of MasterChef winner and SO25 UK City of Culture Chair Shelina Permaloo.

The winner of the City of Culture will be announced at the end of May.

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