Council submits London Borough of Culture bid for Merton

Merton Council signed, sealed and delivered its bid for the borough to be London Borough of Culture 2019, today (1 December).

Merton’s Christmas lights switch-on from Morden provided the perfect cultural backdrop to the official signing of the bid. School children sang carols, local poets recited poems, Father Christmas came to visit and bands played for the crowds to enjoy. The thriving local businesses came out onto the streets with stalls full of goodies. It was a celebration of the festive season starting and of the cultural riches that can be found right across Merton.

Common Ground

Bringing together Merton’s creative industries, its sporting heritage and its huge, multifaceted artistic talent from all four corners of the borough makes this bid remarkable.

Father Christmas and Haydon the Womble

TV favourite, Strictly Come Dancing, techy geeks, mascots, the Mercury prize, pop-up opera, theatre and art all have Merton in common. Common Ground is what this bid is called and what it is all about. Merton is famous for the Wimbledon Tennis for two weeks of the year. The Common Ground programme will set Merton alight with a spark that will ignite a cultural passion in us all for 52 weeks of the year. It will be open to and involve residents and businesses from across the borough, giving all people the opportunity to write their chapter in Merton’s great story.

Should Merton win London Borough of Culture status, it stands to benefit from over £1 million from the Mayor of London to make the events and spectaculars in the bid become a reality. The programme will embed for life the opportunity, connections and wellbeing that cultural activity creates across all communities.

Committing to the London Borough of Culture bid

Political group leaders, Cllrs Stephen Alambritis, Oonagh Moulton and Peter Southgate, came together to confirm their long-term commitment to the exciting programme of spectacular events proposed for 2019 and beyond. Chief Executive Ged Curran and Director of Corporate Services Caroline Holland also signed the document before sending it to the Mayor of London.

Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “We are all very excited about our bid. A huge amount of work from people in all parts of the borough has gone into make it a stand-out piece of work. It is a demonstration of how amazing our borough and its people are and of the huge potential that is here waiting to be discovered.”

(l-r) Cllr Oonagh Moulton, Cllr Stephen Alambritis and Cllr Peter Southgate

(l-r) Cllr Oonagh Moulton, Cllr Stephen Alambritis and Cllr Peter Southgate

Leader of Merton Council Conservative Group Councillor Oonagh Moulton said: “We are a remarkable borough with remarkable, talented people as reflected in the quality of our bid. The Morden Christmas lights event is the tip of iceberg when it comes to the cultural treasures we have here just waiting to be discovered.”

Leader of Merton Park Independent Residents’ Group Councillor Peter Southgate said: “It’s so impressive to hear about all the cultural talent we have in Merton. Let’s keep everything crossed that we win and we can see our bid come to life in 2019.”

Chair of the Merton London Borough of Culture committee and local music entrepreneur John Merriman said: “Right from the Mayor of London’s campaign trail announcing the Borough of Culture initiative, to today, submitting our stunning bid, I am certain of the benefits that will be felt right across London, from our future success as London’s Borough of Culture 2019. The culture in our borough is already on a positive trajectory and ready to embrace and amplify the awarding of this honour.”