Web access key to City of Culture bid

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GETTING more people online will be a priority if Portsmouth becomes the UK City of Culture.

The council is putting new road signs up that include QR codes –dotted black squares that can be scanned by mobile phones and provide information.

Culture leaders hope more tourists will connect to social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to get information on activities.

And it’s hoped that will in turn attract more visitors to Portsmouth. As previously reported, the council is sending a joint application with Southampton to The Department for Culture, Media & Sport for both areas to become UK City of Culture in 2017.

Councillor Lee Hunt, cabinet member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: ‘We’re already getting completely new signage in, all with QR codes that you can scan with your smartphone.

‘It means if a Japanese visitor, or a European visitor or whoever visits the city with their smartphones or whatever technology they have, they can use that to help them navigate the city.

‘If they have confidence that they can get information when they get here, they’re going to want to keep coming back here.

‘The libraries are the quickest to respond to anything we put on Facebook. Young people and social media go hand in hand, they engage naturally with Facebook and Twitter, for example. People from all different ages are engaging with social media too, and we’re responding to that.’

Cllr Hunt said he was looking forward to Monday’s public meeting about the bid.

‘In terms of the meeting on Monday, we’ll consider everything and anything,’ he said.

‘What we’ve got already here, in terms of history, culture and heritage – the Vikings invaded Rowlands Castle for example – there’s so much here to support the bid, it’s enormous. If you understand your past, you know where you are going.

‘Jewish mathematics teacher Hertha Ayrton was born here, and she invented the Ayrton flapper fan, which helped dissipate poison gases in the World War One era.’

‘We’ve got a wealth of assets here that we can develop further.

‘There are 7.5m visitors every year to Portsmouth.

We have a population of 200,000. Birmingham has a population of one million, and they get 28 million visitors per year – we get more visitors per resident than they do.’

The council has until April 30 to send its application and a short list will be made in June. The winner is announced in December.

n Tomorrow we’re focusing on how the bid will benefit young people.