Ipswich and Colchester miss out on Channel 4 ‘creative hub’ scheme

The University of Essex supported Colchester's bid to become a new creative hub Picture: UNIVERSITY

The University of Essex supported Colchester's bid to become a new creative hub Picture: UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX - Credit: UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX

Over 30 places applied for the scheme – and yet nowhere in the East of England was shortlisted.

Students from the University of Suffolk backed the bid for Channel 4's Creative Hub Picture: NICOLE

Students from the University of Suffolk backed the bid for Channel 4's Creative Hub Picture: NICOLE DRURY/IBC - Credit: Archant

Ipswich and Colchester councils have expressed their disappointment after not a single place in the East of England was shortlisted for Channel 4’s creative hub scheme.

The broadcaster revealed its first shortlist today, after judging over 30 submissions from towns and cities all hoping to become the new National HQ, or one of two creative hubs. While Channel 4 received bids from Ipswich, Colchester and Norwich, nowhere in East Anglia was shortlisted for the project.

Despite the setback, council leaders have said they were proud to enter their towns for the scheme – and will continue to promote what are clearly talented communities.

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “We are obviously disappointed at the decision to shortlist only major cities. There were clearly some very strong candidates and we wish them well but feel that Ipswich represented the smaller, non-metropolitan centres that could have delivered so much. However, putting the bid together did make us realise how much creativity we have here and I do want to thank all our team of partners and supporters for their hard work.”

Nick Barlow, Colchester Council portfolio holder for commercial services, said: “This is a blow to Colchester, but all is not lost. Colchester has all the right ingredients: a strong talent pipeline, Ultrafast Gigabit broadband, a competitive cost base, space for growth and a great network of existing companies which together are proving compelling in attracting new businesses here.

“The important thing is that the partnership has been confident and bold in its bid which has put Colchester on the national map as a contender.

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“We will not lose the momentum built up by the bid. We have the Mercury Theatre’s refurbishment and extension project, the redevelopment of St Botolph’s around Firstsite including a new Curzon Cinema.

“There is also the new £10m Innovation Centre at the University of Essex which combined with strong interest in Colchester’s emerging Northern Gateway development proves there is economic confidence in the town.”

Karen Everett, CEO of Screen Suffolk, which was heavily involved in Ipswich’s bid, said: “We think the decision is a terrible oversight by Channel 4. Failing to be shortlisted makes no sense whatsoever to us. We will press on, working with all relevant agencies as Suffolk continues to develop its film and TV hub ambitions. But we’d all have been delighted if Channel 4 joined us on the journey. Their involvement would have made a big difference, a very positive impact, on the opportunities available in the county. We are disappointed on behalf of the people of Suffolk.”

When asked why the East of England was missed off the list, a spokesperson for Channel 4 said: “We were incredibly impressed by the number of pitches and the high quality of the submissions. These were assessed by the Channel 4 team against our vision for the National HQ and the creative hubs, which was set out as part of the published pitch entry process.

“We have contacted all cities and regions that were part of the pitch process, and all those who were unsuccessful will be offered the opportunity to discuss feedback with a senior member of the Channel 4 team – but we will not be publishing feedback on individual cities.

“We look forward to continuing to work with all cities and regions around the country as part of our wider strategy, which will boost Channel 4’s investment in programming made in the nations and regions by £250m over the next six years. This will help support creative businesses, jobs, and growth across all of the UK.”

The 13 places shortlisted were: Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, West Midlands, Belfast, Brighton, Newcastle-Gateshead, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Stoke-on-Trent.

Each of the shortlisted cities will participate in a second stage process – which will include Channel 4 visiting each city for a presentation and Q&A.

Following this, Channel 4 will engage in further discussions with cities and regions as necessary, before selecting the final locations in October 2018.

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