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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Tyneside awaits culture decision
Gateshead Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge was a major part of the area's bid
Culture bosses on Tyneside are counting down the hours to the official announcement of which of six competing cities has been named European Capital of Culture 2008.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell will reveal the winner at 0810 BST on Wednesday, then travel to the winning city for a lunchtime celebration.

Favourites to win, Newcastle and neighbouring Gateshead, which sit on opposite sides of the River Tyne, launched a joint bid for the accolade in recognition of the massive development work being carried out on both sides of the river in the shadow of the famous Tyne Bridge.

Thanks to such new structures as the innovative Millennium Bridge, likened to a blinking eye because of its opening mechanism, the multi-million pound Baltic Centre for contemporary art and the under-construction Sage Music Centre, one bookmaker has made the region favourite to scoop the award.

The region is also famous for the world-renowned Angel of the North structure.

Newcastle-Gateshead Initiative chief executive Neil Rami said: "The whole of the North East is eagerly anticipating this announcement after four years of hard work.

Jobs boost

"Regeneration through culture is the strategy for renewal of Newcastle-Gateshead, we believe."

Independent research has shown that European Capital of Culture 2008 would boost tourism to the North East and bring in four million additional overnight visitors, a 1.2 billion income boost to the region creating 24,000 jobs.

Culture bosses and main players including Olympic triple-jump champion Jonathan Edwards will gather at one school in Newcastle and one in Gateshead to listen to the early-morning announcement.

A Newcastle-Gateshead Initiative spokeswoman said: "Winning the European Capital of Culture 2008 title will mean the most to the next generation and it's most appropriate to hear the announcement with young people who will be reaching the age of 16 by 2008."

The other contenders for the title are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Oxford.



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