Yorkshire’s largest city seems set to lose out in row over future UK participation in European Capital of Culture competitions.
Leader of the Yorkshire Party, Stewart Arnold, has written to Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, seeking urgent answers on how the Government will resolve the exclusion of Leeds from the European Capital of Culture 2023 competition.
The city was among five in the UK bidding to host the title, with the winner expected to be announced in the coming week. However, it emerged that the European Commission has told the UK Government a British city cannot hold the title in 2023 due to Brexit.
Writing to the Culture Secretary, Mr Arnold said: “Leeds has put a considerable amount of time, effort and expense into their bid and are excited about the many benefits it would generate in Leeds, Yorkshire, the rest of the UK and Europe.
"A successful bid will deliver hundreds of new jobs and a large number of additional visits to the city during the year and the programme of events would leave a lasting legacy.
"I am extremely disappointed to learn that the significant contributions the Leeds team have put into developing their bid may be wasted as a result of the UK Government’s unknown destination as far as Brexit is concerned.”
Mr Arnold called on Ms Bradley to meet Leeds’s bid team and provide an “indication as to what steps the UK Government intends to take with the EU to address this unacceptable position”.
Stewart Arnold has also written to Martine Reicherts, Director General for education, youth sport and culture at the European Commission, urging her to reconsider the decision not to allow Leeds to participate.
He said: “Whilst I understand that our future relationship with Brussels is by no means clear, I would say - whatever the outcome - that cultural collaboration is an area which must continue to form part of the UK’s future partnership with the EU. In that vein I would urge you to reconsider this decision.”
Stewart Arnold added:
"Not having a single strong voice for Yorkshire makes it difficult for Leeds' concerns to be heard either in London or Brussels. Agreement on the One Yorkshire devolution deal can't come soon enough."