Bid loss is a blow ... but town can rally

Paisley Daily Express - - Front Page -

Pais­ley was stunned into silence last night as the town lost out on the chance to be­come the UK City of Cul­ture in 2021.

A crowd of hun­dreds had gath­ered at the Uni­ver­sity of the West of Scot­land to hear the an­nounce­ment live on The One Show on BBC One.

As the news was due to be an­nounced, a hush fell over the crowd, fol­lowed by an au­di­ble sigh as Arts Min­is­ter John Glen MP re­vealed the English city of Coven­try as the win­ner.

But the crowd ral­lied, with ev­ery­one con­grat­u­lat­ing the hard work of the bid team and promis­ing the good work would con­tinue.

Ren­frew­shire Coun­cil leader Iain Ni­col­son, chair of the Pais­ley 2021 part­ner­ship board, said: “We were al­ways aware we were in a com­pe­ti­tion and in any com­pe­ti­tion there’s a chance you won’t win.

“When we ran the bid process and de­vel­oped our plans, they weren’t fo­cussed on win­ning. All the in­vest­ment we have will con­tinue. All the good­will from part­ners, com­mu­nity groups and the peo­ple of Pais­ley will con­tinue.

“The legacy of Pais­ley has been put on the map ... our pro­file has been raised.

“A lot of peo­ple in Pais­ley can lift their heads high. The bid was great.”

Pais­ley MSP Ge­orge Adam was vis­i­bly up­set, but still proud of his home­town.

He said: “I’d con­vinced my­self we were go­ing to win. I don’t know if that was me be­ing the eter­nal op­ti­mist or not.

“But all the good work we’ve done, all the pos­i­tiv­ity that hap­pened, will re­main.

“This means too much to us and it won’t go away. The mo­men­tum has started with this bid and this cam­paign.

“The fu­ture is bright for Pais­ley.”

Ren­frew­shire North and West MSP Derek Mackay MSP, who is the Scot­tish fi­nance sec­re­tary, added: “I’m dis­ap­pointed as a Ren­frew­shire MSP, but I’m filled with pride be­cause of the mo­men­tum Pais­ley has.

“We wi l l w o r k in part­ner­ship to make sure events hap­pen, fa­cil­i­ties and build­ings will hap­pen. Pais­ley may not have won, but the mo­men­tum for Pais­ley is un­stop­pable.”

Alan McNiven, chief ex­ec­u­tive of En­gage Ren­frew­shire, and a mem­ber of the Pais­ley 2021 part­ner­ship board, said Pais­ley was a bet­ter place for hav­ing bid for the ti­tle.

“We have raised peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions, and there is al­ways a dan­ger in that, but if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.

“We are a bet­ter place for hav­ing bid and there is no doubt about that in my opin­ion.

“I’ve worked in the area for 24 years and a lot of that in areas like Fer­gus­lie Park, and I have seen peo­ple get be­hind the idea, which is cul­tur­ally driven, but is also about re­gen­er­a­tion, and we need to make sure we hold onto that.

“It is too early to say if we will bid again, but the ge­nie is out of the bot­tle now.”

Slumped on over­sized chairs, the kids from PACE youth theatre com­pany looked de­spon­dent.

“When I heard the name Coven­try, I was dev­as­tated,” said 11-year-old Emma Still.

“I’m so an­noyed,” added Ben Boul­ton-Jones.

“I truly be­lieve we de­served it,” said Ben An­der­son.

The mood was of dis­ap­point­ment, but there is an un­der­ly­ing pride in what they have achieved as a group, and as part of a wider com­mu­nity.

“I re­ally do think it’s got Pais­ley no­ticed in the right way. It has changed per­cep­tions and au­to­mat­i­cally puts Pais­ley on the map. We have had the most in­cred­i­ble time. I’m very proud of Pais­ley,” said 14-year-old Max Burns.

Asked what’s next for the theatre group, 13-year-old Ben Bolton-Jones jumps in straight away: “2025!”

Pais­ley may not have won the com­pe­ti­tion, but it has won over a huge num­ber of Bud­dies.

Gut­ted Pace kids Ben Boul­ton-Jones, Anna Boul­ton-Jones, Emma Still and Max Burns and, in­set, the crowd at the Uni­ver­sity of the West of Scot­land falls silent as it awaits the an­nounce­ment

Up­set Ge­orge Adam

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