By Gerry Braiden, Herald Scotland

Hollywood A-lister Gerard Butler, acclaimed musician Paolo Nutini, and David Tennant, one of UK TV’s favourite actors of the modern era, all call it home.

But the bid by Scotland’s largest town to become the UK City of Culture and use hundreds of millions of pounds already pledged to the area to reinvent itself is still facing as much ridicule as respect.

Now, civic, political and government leaders are pushing Paisley as the country’s regeneration capital, its proposals hailed as “unique in Scotland in terms of their scope and scale”.

In recent days the town has been the subject of a promotional visit by the UK Government’s number two in Scotland, Andrew Dunlop.

The town’s slate for reinvention include its share of the £1.13billion City Deal package, with around £275million dedicated to the wider Renfrewshire area, a £55m project to turn the Paisley Museum into an international-class visitor attraction and, of course, the 2021 City of Culture bid.

The home town of an old school friend, Lord Dunlop was a regular visitor to Paisley in the 1970s, though these days it is more somewhere bypassed on route to relatives in Inverclyde.

Hailing from Helensburgh, just from across the Clyde, Lord Dunlop was also one of the main political figures in pulling together the UK Government’s £500m-plus contribution to the city deal, his visit to the town also an opportunity to monitor the progress of that.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland said: “The great thing about the City of Culture bid is how it looks at Paisley in a different way. It has fantastic cultural assets, from the Abbey to the terrific space which is the museum and the world-renowned Paisley Pattern. It has a tremendous platform to put itself on the map.

“In tandem with that there are great regeneration opportunities, such as the old Arnotts store. The bid gets people to think about Paisley as somewhere worth celebrating.

““It would be a huge achievement to bring the title to a Scottish city - we have seen in other places how winning the title can drive improvement and regeneration in communities.”

The town’s bid to be UK City of Culture uses Paisley’s outstanding architectural and cultural heritage to drive a transformation over the next decade.

Home to a fine neoclassical town hall, medieval abbey church, and handsome museum, the huige success of the nearby Braehead shopping centre has been to the detriment of a town centre already down on its luck.

The flagship project is the £56.7m plan to turn Paisley Museum into an international-class tourist destination based around the town’s unique textile heritage. It is hoped the revamped building will attract more than 150,000 visitors per year, create 250 jobs, and be worth £88m to the local economy.

Source: Herald Scotland

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