WARRINGTON'S bid to become 2021 City of Culture has edged closer – but the council is facing a race against time to 'demonstrate the town's ambitions' to judges.

The borough has registered its interest to battle for the prestigious title ahead of the January 31 deadline.

It comes after the town's Labour group backed plans for the borough to make a bid last Wednesday, January 18.

Final bids to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are due by the end of April before a shortlist is announced in July, with the winning city confirmed in December.

Cllr Dan Price (LAB – Great Sankey North and Whittle Hall) has been leading a panel of experts to decide if the town should throw its hat into the ring for the title following the damning 2015 Royal Society of Arts (RSA) heritage report.

Hull was selected as the UK's 2017 City of Culture, with event costs for the year set to total £13.5 million, but experts believe it could inject £60 million into the area's economy this year alone.

Anticipated costs of submitting a bid for Warrington are yet to be finalised but council sources said it will 'not be in the millions'.

The prestigious title is a chance to use arts and culture as a 'catalyst' for a city's economic and social regeneration, as well as raising the profile of the area's creative reputation.

Efforts are now turning to showing the judging panel what the town has to offer.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead said he has been pleased with the response from the public and groups in the town following the 2015 RSA report.

"We have expressed interest and I have been asked to start to put together a bid for phase one of it," he added.

"The town has ambitions for culture and arts – now it is all about demonstrating them.

"A lot of hard work is needed in a short space of time.

"There is no budget at the moment but we will be putting together estimated costs."

Warrington South MP David Mowat is among the politicians that are confident Warrington can secure the 2021 title.

He said: "The costs of making bids of this kind are usually quite significant so they should be weighed very carefully against the council's other spending priorities.

"That said, if Hull can be a City of Culture, I'm sure Warrington can."