Last week the Minister for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage MP, wrote back to Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, about the bid with his Durham colleagues for County Durham to become the next ‘City of Culture’ in 2025.

In July the Conservative MPs for Durham wrote to the Culture Secretary, the Rt Hon. Oliver Dowden CBE, as they wanted to bid not just for a City of Culture but as a whole county.

Mr Holden with Dehenna Davison and Paul Howell, MPs for Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield respectively, are keen to showcase culture from across their constituencies and have their county welcome the rest of the country.

In her reply to Mr Holden last week, the DCMS minister confirmed that that the ‘City of Culture’ award had received 20 Expressions of Interest and that the ministry would be looking not just at cities but at whole range of bids, including counties.

Of course, unable to favour one bid or another, Caroline Dinenage MP still wished the best for the County Durham bid. DCMS is now appointing an independent panel to be chaired by Sir Phil Redmond, the television producer and screenwriter, which will look at the bids and announce a winner in May 2022.

Commenting Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham said:

Getting our ‘County’ together for our 2025 bid is wonderful. From the stunning wilderness of the North Pennines to the history of places like Ushaw College and the Seaham coast, we’ve got so much to offer. I’m 100% behind our County bidding for this and really hope that we progress well through the competition. 

“Following our meeting with the Officials from DCMS, it was clear my, Paul and Dehenna’s push for this to be a real ‘County of Culture’ bid is within the criteria as we have a real, collective cultural identity.

“I am pleased that the minister has now come back and confirmed this to me. The selections process is now underway and I am sure of the merits of County Durham’s bid.”

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