Norwich emerge as City of Culture favourites

Peter WalshNorwich has emerged as the bookies favourite to be named the UK's first ever City of Culture in 2013 - a title which could help provide a �200m boost to the local economy.Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid websitePeter Walsh

Norwich has emerged as the bookies favourite to be named the UK's first ever City of Culture in 2013 - a title which could help provide a �200m boost to the local economy.

Yesterday it was revealed that Norwich had been shortlisted alongside Birmingham, Sheffield and Derry/Londonderry for the coveted title having been whittled down by ministers from a list of 14 possible contenders which included Ipswich.

Following the announcement about the shortlist bookies have been quick to install Norwich as early favourites for the honour which would provide a major boost for tourism and attract new investment to the county.

William Hill Bookmakers have put Norwich at 6/4 favourites with Sheffield 9/4, Birmingham 3/1, and Derry/Londonderry 4/1 all following in the city's wake.

As the Evening News reported yesterday City leaders issued a rallying cry for public support after Norwich was short-listed for the title which will be marked by a year of celebrations in 2013.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said he was 'absolutely thrilled' Norwich had made the short-list and was pleased the city had been looked on favourably by the bookies.

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He said: 'I think it's worth a little flutter at those sorts of odds. I think we're pretty confident, talking to people from different parts of the community. Everyone is committed and while we found there were a number of people saying it's great to be short-listed even if we don't win there were far more saying; 'Come on, let's get down to it and win this thing - it would be so great for the city'.

'If people are interested in betting they had better get in now while there are pretty decent odds as they are likely to get shorter as we get closer.'

The four cities were shortlisted by an independent panel and selected on the quality of their proposed cultural programmes and social regeneration schemes. The final recommendation will be made in June.

It is intended that the winning city will host high-profile cultural events such as the Turner Prize, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, The Brits and the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Culture minister Margaret Hodge said: 'It's a testament to their hard work - and dedication to culture - that they've come so far in what had proven to be a very tough competition.'

The long list in December included fourteen selected cities, including Carlisle, Chichester and Swansea.

Judging panel chairman Phil Redmond said: 'It was a hard choice, but also heartening that all bidders had recognised the power of culture to bring people together.'

Norwich South MP Charles Clarke said: 'It is fantastic news that Norwich has been selected for the final shortlist for the UK City of Culture in 2013. I want to congratulate all those who have worked so well together to make this happen.'

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, said: 'This is great news. I am absolutely delighted for our city to have been so successful so far in this contest.'

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