To bid or not to bid? Luton Council fails to make decision on UK City of Culture 2025

A decision on whether Luton bids for UK City of Culture 2025 has been delayed until early next year.

The announcement was due to be made on Monday's meeting of the borough council’s executive.

Parade at Luton Carnival      [archive]

Parade at Luton Carnival [archive]

Members have instead chosen to delay the decision to allow further work examining the impact and opportunities the City of Culture status would bring.

A pilot year of culture has been taking place in the town throughout 2019 to show its creative potential, ahead of a possible bid for Luton to become UK City of Culture 2025 - which is open to large towns.

The deadline for the first round of bid applications for UK City of Culture 2025 is January 2021 and shortlisting is due to be announced in April 2021.

The council’s cultural enabler Michaela Nutt said in September it was looking at ways that arts and culture can be at the heart of town centre regeneration.

“We’ve been evaluating the impact of large scale arts and cultural activity on Luton’s people and places,” she told its overview and scrutiny board.

High Town councillor Rachel Hopkins is the council’s portfolio holder for commissioning and public health, which includes cultural strategy.

Speaking before the executive meeting, she said that time is running out for the bid decision process.

Next month’s general election, at which she will be standing as Labour's candidate in Luton South, is an added distraction for the local authority.

She confirmed there is still some work ongoing, which meant the anticipated decision date this month has been postponed.