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Saturday, 9 June, 2001, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Support for culture city bid
Inverness
Inverness became Scotland's sixth city
Inverness has received government backing for its attempt to be named European City of Culture in 2008.

Scotland's deputy minister for sport and culture, Allan Wilson, voiced his support as he set off for a two-day fact-finding mission to the current holder of the title - Porto in Portugal.

Glasgow was the last Scottish city to hold the crown more than a decade ago.


We hope to begin to attract momentum to the Inverness bid

Allan Wilson
Inverness only officially became a city earlier this year after being awarded the status last December.

It is the only Scottish bidder seeking to win the culture title - but is expected to face competition from elsewhere in the UK, including Bradford and Belfast.

Mr Wilson said his visit to Portugal would clarify what Scottish Executive ministers could do to help the Inverness effort.

"We hope to begin to attract momentum to the Inverness bid and I want to discuss what the executive can do to help.

"Portugal and Porto are explicitly using sport and culture to climb up the European ladder and that is something we can learn from," he said.

Support for bid

An executive spokeswoman added: "It's more than 10 years since we last had the title here in Scotland, which was Glasgow in 1990.

"It's all about promoting Scotland at home and abroad so we are obviously keen to support Inverness if it wants to bid for the title."

Mr Wilson was planning to attend Scottish Opera's performance of composer James MacMillan's first full-scale opera, Ines de Castro, during his trip to Portugal.

Portuguese flag
Portugal hosts the Euro 2004 event
He was also due to meet classical pianist Pedro Burmester, one of the instrumental figures in organising the city's successful bid.

He is also hoping to pick up tips on hosting the European football championships, which Portugal will stage in 2004.

Last month Scottish football chiefs declared their intention to bid to host the 2008 championships.

Inverness was officially named one of Britain's three new cities after a competition to mark the new millennium and the Queen's golden jubilee.

The "capital of the Highlands" fought off competition from Ayr, Paisley and Stirling to become Scotland's fifth city.

The Letters Patent, conferring its new status, was formally handed over by the Lord Lieutenant for the area, Lord Gray of Contin, in March.

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19 Mar 01 | Scotland
Scotland's newest city slickers
18 Dec 00 | Scotland
Inverness: Scotland's newest city
18 Dec 00 | UK
City winners named
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