Hull’s slouching tiger, hidden dragging economy

City of Culture

Ahh Hull, the eternal city of love.

Well, not really, but my parents met there, so take that Paris, Rome and Venice.

Also, in my murky past I worked in the city as a Regeneration Consultant (don’t ask me what one is, I’m still not sure), so I have spent a lot of time in the jewel of East Riding.  More than most people who scoff at the city, or ignore it completely.

To be honest, it’s not a difficult area to neglect. Hull is literally at the end of the line. Getting somewhere else in Yorkshire from Hull is difficult enough, let alone any other major UK conurbation. There is a direct train to London, which people seem to forget, but regardless of the train service, Hull misses out on a lot of the wealth Yorkshire creates.

But the inhabitants are very proud of their city and in particularly their sports teams. The football club are known as The Tigers, and like their namesakes have also been put on the endangered list.

The dinosaur of Hull Lord Prescott is now politically extinct, but according to some the city should be too.

The Economist magazine recently said Hull should be shut down along with a host of other “failed” northern towns.

The people of Hull needed some good news, and luckily for them, they have got some.

Hull has now been named as the UK City of Culture 2017, seeing off competition from Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay.

It’s hardly Bath, Canterbury and Oxford, but that is not really the point. It’s a chance to bring some much needed promotion, tourism and hopefully investment into the area.

Often voted bottom (or top) of worst places to live in the UK, awarding the prize to Hull has raised some eyebrows. A bit like Blobfish (look them up) winning the cutest animal in the zoo award. But is there a rich cultural underbelly in Hull, hidden from view? 

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said: “this is brilliant news for Hull and everyone involved in the bid there.

“This year’s UK City of Culture, Derry-Londonderry, demonstrates the huge benefits that the title brings. These include encouraging economic growth, inspiring social change and bringing communities together.”

Strangely, Miller never actually visited Derry during its glorious year of culture, but it’s a nice sentiment anyway.

As ever Cameron also jumped on the good news bandwagon and immediately fell off; as inevitable as a Gazza relapse. After Hull won the City of culture, he praised the local band the Housemartins. In response, ex band member Paul Heaton tweeted:

“When I took over my pub in Salford, the first people I barred was Cameron and (George) Osborne. That ban still stands.”

When will the PM learn?

Paul Weller and Johnny Marr have already slapped him down for admitting an admiration for their music. He should just give up, embrace fellow posh boys Mumford & Sons and save any further embarrassment.

Regardless of Cameron’s foot in mouth syndrome, the city’s population need to ignore everyone else and think big. Derry who were the first UK city of culture winners, maybe sold themselves a bit short.

Sharon O’Connor, Chief executive of Derry City Council said: “You could multiply the official programme by about a factor of four. The community here just came out en masse and started doing events.”

Hull needs to be confident that they can attract culture vultures from Yorkshire, the UK and beyond. Hopefully, even the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will pop in.

If visitors come with an open mind and embrace the city, it could easily surprise them. But if they visit in 2017 with a snarl on their faces, they could end up being mauled by the tigers.

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