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New setback for city's culture celebrations

By Barbara Goulden

It's hard to believe but Coventry City of Culture organisers have announced further delays.

We all understood that the Covid crisis meant our year of arts, crafts, music, dance, poetry and theatre couldn't start on January 1, and it was hoped that things would start happening by May 15.

Apparently some events still will go ahead. But the grand launch spectacle has now been put back to early June.

Details of the launch are still under wraps but Martin Sutherland, chief exectuive of the City of Culture Trust, believes it will be safer for everyone if the main event is held up until more lockdown restrictions are lifted.

The new date being worked towards is June 5th.

By then, organisers say, they feel more confident local people and visitors to the city will be able to participate more fully in whatever is planned.

Why are things never easy for Coventry?

This just can't be another missed opportunity like December 31, 1999. Everyone out in the city centre on the eve of the Millennium will remember the fabulous tightrope walk between two of the city's three spires.

Thousands flooded the streets and the BBC deployed it's tallest outside cameras to showcase the high wire act in a live slot scheduled for broadcast straight after the national lottery draw and just ahead of a message from the Queen.

Then disaster!

Some technical hitch with the lottery led to a delay that robbed us of our 15 minutes of national, perhaps even multi-national fame.

While everyone down on the ground was bursting with pride, Coventry's unique welcome to the new century wasn't shown on TV until about 2am the next day.

This year just has to be better, even though it's already starting in the middle.

So far the only upside to the delay is allowing workers in the city centre a bit more time to transform what currently looks like a landfill site into the waterfalls, flowers and attractive block paving we can so far only enjoy on the artists' impressions.

To be fair, some inner city landsaping, especially round Far Gosford Street, is beginning to transform our open spaces. But would it be too much to ask the council to carry on covering up the concrete sides of our efficient - if slightly terrifying to visitors - ring road? They started that job ages ago. Will they ever finish?

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