East Kent For City Of Culture

Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Thanet have banded together to bid to collectively become the UK City of Culture in 2017.

They have applied as "East Kent",  and will do battle against 10 other areas including Aberdeen, Chester, Dundee, Plymouth, Swansea Bay and Southend-on-Sea.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey, who announced the bid said: "This is fantastic news and shows the appetite for the prestigious City of Culture title is in healthy supply right across the length and breadth of the country.

"The competition brings together communities and creates economic and social benefits and I am pleased to see so many local authorities and different partners coming together. I wish all 11 the best of luck.''

The initial bids have to be in by the end of April when they will be examined by an independent advisory panel chaired by television producer Phil Redmond.

The panel will announce a shortlist in June.

Mr Redmond, who played a leading role in Liverpool's time as European City of Culture, said the scheme could be "a real catalyst for change''.

He said: "I'm delighted so many places have registered their interest in the competition for 2017. Together with the panel I'm looking forward to receiving some ambitious and dynamic bids that highlight the very best of local cultural talent, along with delivering a realistic programme that will appeal to as wide an audience as possible.''

Londonderry was named the first UK City of Culture in 2010.