PM Backs All-Party 08 Group

From the Culture Company…

Prime Minister Tony Blair has led the main political leaders in backing the launch of a special Capital of Culture All-Party Parliamentary Group.

The Liverpool Culture Company, responsible for the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008, has invited MPs and Lords to champion Liverpool’s cause.

It will be formally launched today (Thursday, December 1) at Westminster, with members of the new group including Lord Owen, Creative Industries and Tourism Minister James Purnell and Boris Johnson MP.

The 08 All-Party Group also includes Liverpool MPs such as Louise Ellman, who will be Vice-Chair of the group. Knowsley North MP George Howarth will be the Chairman.

The Rt Hon Tony Blair, MP, said: ”I am delighted that Liverpool is to be the European Capital of Culture in 2008 and welcome the launch of the All-Party Group. The last few years have seen a magnificent flourishing of Britain’s cities. It has been wonderful to see the progress in Liverpool recently. It is thriving as it has not done for a long time. Liverpool 08 will be a further boost to the city, to the region and to the country as a whole. The All-Party Group can play a very important role in the lead up to 2008. I wish it every success.”

According to parliamentary rules, an all-party group needs to be at least 20 members.

Conservative Leader Michael Howard, who fought two general elections in the city and is a Liverpool FC fan, said he was delighted to be a member of the 08 All-Party Group.

He added: ”I have always enjoyed visiting the city. Many thousands more visitors will now have the opportunity to share in the Liverpool experience as a result of Capital of Culture 2008. Residents themselves will benefit not only from the huge range of festivals and events, but from substantial investment and job creation. As with London 2012, Liverpool 2008 will be of substantial benefit to the whole of Britain.”

As well as debating important issues relating to culture, regeneration and social inclusion which will feed into national policy debates the group will be able to feed back opinions to Liverpool. One advantage is that members will also be able to lobby both Houses of Parliament and Government on Liverpool’s behalf.

Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy said: ”Liverpool is a city with immense cultural heritage. It has constantly led the way musically and it has long been on the cutting edge of projects that promote the arts. Everyone in Britain should be proud of the achievements made by all who have helped to put Liverpool on the cultural map, and the 08 All-Party Group is an extremely positive initiative to ensure Liverpool is promoted even further.”

Professor Drummond Bone, Chairman of the Liverpool Culture Company, said: ”Today’s launch of the 08 All-Party Group is a seminal moment in the story of Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture programme. The next three years will define the city for generations to come. It is vital Liverpool has support within the Houses of Parliament so that we can communicate the benefits of 08 and influence the decision makers to ensue we deliver the best ever Capital of Culture.”

Councillor Warren Bradley, Executive Member for Culture at Liverpool city council, said: ”As Britain’s European Capital of Culture it is only right that the city has the backing of the nation and its political leaders. As we get closer to 2008, it will become increasingly more important that the city can look to our friends in Westminster to help push culture up the political agenda and make 08 the year we all hope for.

”We want to make the nation proud of Liverpool and its people and the 08 All-Party Group will be hugely influential in spreading the word of what the city is doing for Britain on the world stage. They can also help communicate the dynamic role creativity plays in modern-day Liverpool.”

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