Derry & Strabane Council have allocated £84,000 to progress the final stage of Derry’s bid to become European Youth Capital.
Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee agreed by majority to release the funds for the development of the next stage of the bid process and a range of associated projects required before the winner is announced.
The money will come from savings identified in other areas within the council’s existing budget.
The move comes three weeks after Derry & Strabane was shortlisted for the coveted title alongside four other cities and towns across Europe out of an initial 13 applicants.
The second bid will have to be completed and submitted by June 26, while the third and final application deadline is October 2016. The decision will be announced in November.
The successful, initial bid submitted back in February had been awarded £74,000 from the Council.
Council Chief Executive John Kelpie made the new funding request on behalf of Council officers at the committee meeting in the Guildhall on Tuesday.
Mr Kelpie said a detailed work plan has been developed to progress through to the second stage application, with the key focus on the engagement of young people in the design of the EYC19 Programme.
It is also proposed to undertake a pilot project to demonstrate to the young people how one of their key issues can be taken forward, raise the profile of the local area, along with lobbying across Northern Ireland and European level.
Independent Councillor Derek Hussey congratulated all those involved in compiling the bid and the work done so far.
He added that while he wouldn’t vote against the recommendation, he couldn’t vote for it due to outstanding issues around branding.
SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins congratulated officers on the success so far and said there was “still more to be done to get us over that Finish Line.”
“Our Community Plan has highlighted a dire need for our young people to have a voice, and with the success of the City of Culture, this can only be a good accolade,” she said.
Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly said the EYC shortlisting was a “great story for the city”, but asked whether more young people were to be included beyond those already reached.
Mr Kelpie responded that the intent was to go beyond the groups the council were already working with and to “capture more voices in the second part of the process”.
Sinn Fein Councillor Colly Kelly said the bid success to date was “great news for the city”, adding that he looked forward to the project being developed further.
SDLP Councillor John Boyle asked whether there was any financial input from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister or other government departments, and was told while there was none at present, that the council was engaging with various departments.
“It’s incumbent they support this ambitious project,” Colr. Boyle said.
Committee Chair, Sinn Fein Councillor Karina Carlin, asked whether the work completed last year and this year on the bid would remain relevant for subsequent bids, should Derry not take the title this time round.
Mr Kelpie replied: “Absolutely. All the work we have done can form the basis for a future bid we would make. In going for any of these key accolades, there is huge benefit in going through the bid process.
“We are highlighting our youth and the profile of the city region on a European level and the benefits of that are almost immeasurable.”
Independent Councillor Warren Robinson said that expectations from a successful bid should be grounded in reality, given that the City of Culture “promised so much in terms of permanent jobs and legacy”.
“I see very little evidence of that,” he said.
The other areas shortlisted for EYC19 are Manchester, Novi Sad in Serbia, Perugia in Italy and Amiens in France.
The European Youth Capital is a title granted by the European Youth Forum to a European City or town for a period of one year, during which it is given the chance to showcase its youth-related cultural, social, political and economic life and development.
The Council is hosting a major Engagement Workshop at the Guildhall on 31 May to gauge the thoughts of young people in designing a “real and meaningful programme”.
Register online to take part in the ‘EYC19 Make it Happen Workshop’ at the following link www.eyc19.com, or contact Emma McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.