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