TORY CHAIRMAN- 'We're keen to get to the bottom of Coventry's City of Culture year' - The Coventry Observer

TORY CHAIRMAN- 'We're keen to get to the bottom of Coventry's City of Culture year'

Coventry Editorial 19th Jan, 2024   0

CONSERVATIVE Party chairman Richard Holden has said there needs to be an effort ‘to get to the bottom of what went wrong’ during Coventry’s time as City of Culture.

Mr Holden was campaigning in Coventry South on Thursday with Tory Parliamentary candidates Tom Mercer and Mattie Heaven ahead of this year’s general election.

Speaking to the Observer, Mr Holden said he, and his party’s local candidates, were ‘very keen’ for the full legacy of the City of Culture year to be realised.

Following Coventry City of Culture Trust’s collapse in February 2023, the National Audit Office produced a report on its funding.

The watchdog’s report revealed increased costs, below-expected income and an accounting error helped contribute to its downfall.

In June, Coventry North West MP Taiwo Owatemi secured a debate in the House of Commons asking for the government to commit to giving funding promised to the Trust to Coventry.

In September, a bid by Coventry City Council to get the cash promised to the collapsed Trust to deliver its legacy programme was knocked back by government chiefs.

Mr Holden told the Observer: “Millions was given by central government to fund the City of Culture year and I know there is a big desire in Coventry to get to the bottom of this issue.

“I know Mattie and Tom are very passionate about this issue and want to see a real legacy of the City of Culture.

“This includes getting to the bottom of what went wrong but also to work towards building on the positive as there was so much money and goodwill invested into the year.”

The cost-of-living crisis has seen charities including Coventry Foodbank, homelessness charity Emmaus and Clothing Coventry all report record demand in 2023.

Mr Holden claimed inflation, caused by the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, had┬áseen this issue spiral and said the government had begun to get to grips with it – but admitted there was further work to be done.

“Those in Coventry want to know how we plan to ramp up the economy and Mattie and Tom had a plan to bring strong economic investment into the city to provide more skilled, long-term jobs.

“There is a lot of growth potential and we can build on West Midlands Mayor Andy Street’s work and the potential of the investment zone with a potential new Gigafactory.”

Tom Mercer is bidding to be the MP for Coventry North West, the seat currently occupied by Taiwo Owatemi.

Mattie Heaven is going for Zarah Sultana’s Coventry South seat.

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