A SOUTHAMPTON MP has said winning the UK City of Culture should be about opportunity rather than geography after the city missed out on the crown.

Southampton’s journey to become City of Culture came to an end as Bradford was named victorious live on the One Show on Tuesday night.

Daily Echo: The crowd at Solent University on Tuesday night. Pictures by Stuart MartinThe crowd at Solent University on Tuesday night. Pictures by Stuart Martin

MP for Southampton Itchen Royston Smith has since said he is “very disappointed”.

In a tweet he said: “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, levelling up is about opportunity not geography.

“This evening it looked like geography again. Not good enough.”


Read more: City of Culture loss 'is not the end' - But what next for the city's bid?


Mr Smith says the government needs to look at the south as well as the north if they are serious about levelling up.

He told the Echo: “Government talks about levelling up, but we have seen precious little evidence of it here in Southampton.

“Where once we boasted thousands of blue-collar manufacturing jobs, we are now too reliant on retail and service industries.

“These are not jobs with security, good pay and prospects. If we, as a government, are serious about levelling up we need to look south as well as north.

"The team in Southampton has done a fantastic job to get us this far. The relationships and bonds created by developing the bid are stronger than ever and they will endure.

“Winning the right to stage City of Culture 2025 would have helped put us on the map."

Daily Echo: The crowd at Solent University on Tuesday night. Pictures by Stuart MartinThe crowd at Solent University on Tuesday night. Pictures by Stuart Martin

Despite the disappointment, it is hoped the Southampton 2025 Trust - and its supporters - will attract investment into the city.

Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, says the momentum created by bidding for the crown will continue.


READ NEXT: Southampton misses out on City of Culture - As it happened


He said: “Even though we didn't win the title of City of Culture 2025 the bid has brought our city together and has shone a light on the rich cultural life our city has to offer.

“I am proud of our city and everyone involved in this effort.

“It has put Southampton on the map and no doubt the momentum generated by this bid will continue at pace.”

Daily Echo: The crowd at Solent University on Tuesday night. Pictures by Stuart MartinThe crowd at Solent University on Tuesday night. Pictures by Stuart Martin

Leigh-Sara Timberlake, Business South Group CEO, said: “While the news that Southampton has not secured the City of Culture title for 2025 is undoubtedly disappointing, the city can hold its head high as we all know that taking part in the process has unlocked something special in the city.

“The So25 team should be congratulated as they literally did everything they could to secure the prize - and despite the title going to Bradford the positive work done so far can only lead to more great stuff happening in Southampton.”

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