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Minister backs Norwich City of Culture bid

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:46 02 July 2010

Mary Hamilton

Visiting government minister Ed Balls has backed the bid to make Norwich the UK City of Culture in 2013 - alongside more than 1,500 local people.

The schools secretary, who grew up in Norfolk and has family in Norwich, told the Evening News he hoped the city could win the title - and that City would return to the Premiership.

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Visiting government minister Ed Balls has backed the bid to make Norwich the UK City of Culture in 2013 - alongside more than 1,500 local people.

The schools secretary, who grew up in Norfolk and has family in Norwich, told the Evening News he hoped the city could win the title - and that City would return to the Premiership.

He said: “I think a double whammy of Norwich winning the City of Culture and Norwich City getting back into the Premiership would be a brilliant thing.

“We should try to pull off both at the same time. I think it's very exciting and I wish Norwich all the best.”

His comments came as the unofficial Facebook group backing the bid celebrated getting more than 1,500 members in just 10 days.

Huw Sayer, a business writer who came back to live in the city after 21 years working in London, created the group Making Norwich UK City of Culture 2013 last week after deciding he wanted to show his support for the bid.

The former Norwich School pupil said: “I didn't know about the competition until the announcement that we had been shortlisted - I thought it was excellent news and I wanted to do something to show my support.

“I searched for a website or a Facebook group and there wasn't anything, so I thought fair enough, it's only just been announced.

“Then as I saw more activity from the other cities I thought, well, it's all very well sitting here asking what other people are doing about it.

“I set the group up last Sunday night - I'd never done anything like it before. I got nine people overnight and from there it just snowballed.”

The 44-year-old, who lives on Kirby Road, Trowse, has been amazed by the support for his idea, which has gathered more than 1,500 supporters posting links, pictures and video online to help spread the word about what the city has to offer.

The city council will be launching an official website and social media presence alongside its logo next week, but cultural development officer Marion Catlin said the unofficial group was a wonderful expression of support that they hoped to see continue through the campaign.

“We want everyone to be involved in the bid,” she said. “It's fantastic to have such an outpouring of support and such a great place for people to share the city's culture.”

Norwich was shortlisted for the City of Culture title, which could bring £200m in investment and tourism revenue to the city, alongside Birmingham, Sheffield and Derry/Londonderry.

Last night an official Facebook page for Derry was topping the tables with more than 2,100 fans, while a similar Sheffield page had just over 1,300 fans. There was as yet no official or unofficial presence for Birmingham's bid on the social networking site.

You can join the Facebook group at www.tinyurl.com/Norwich-2013.

Are you doing something special to support the City of Culture bid? Contact reporter Mary Hamilton on 01603 772418 or email mary.hamilton@archant.co.uk.

2013 reasons for Norwich to win

Can the people of Norwich come up with 2013 reasons why we should win? Here are some suggestions you came up with on Facebook.

“Norwich Market. It boasts over 190 stalls and is the largest Monday-to-Saturday open market in the country.

“There's been a market in Norwich since Saxon times and it's been on its current site longer than any of the buildings that surround it.” - Jenny James

“Because we have Europe's biggest permanent digital screen at The Forum.” - Richard Fair

“Brancaster Mussels, Yarmouth Bloaters and some of the best smoked kippers in the world - and I'm a Northumbrian raised on Craster kippers. That's saying a lot!” - Adrienne Jolly

“3,000 people came to show their support for the LGBT community on the first Norwich Pride in July 2009.” - Shelly Telly

Join the discussion at www.tinyurl.com/2013-reasons.

How you can get involved

Send your ideas or volunteer your time or talents by emailing cityofculture@norwich.gov.uk.

Tell us about events, projects or groups you're involved with by calling 01603 772418 or emailing mary.hamilton@archant.co.uk.

Tell us why you're backing the bid by emailing mary.hamilton@archant.co.uk or calling 01603 772418.

Show your support and let us know about events happening where you are by joining the Norwich 2013 Facebook group at www.tinyurl.com/Norwich-2013.

Follow the Evening News Back the Bid campaign on Twitter at www.twitter.com/norwichculture.

Read more about the City of Culture bid at www.en24.co.uk/culture.

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