'Don't drive through... stop and visit': Council aspires for Northampton to win City of Culture 2025

The borough council want to turn Northampton into a "city of culture" for 2025.
The borough council want to turn Northampton into a "city of culture" for 2025.

The borough council hope to use blue plaques, free tourism maps and "stop and visit" signs to make Northampton a city of culture by 2025.

After an 11-month investigation, a final report into how to boost the town's tourism and culture will be put to the council next week (April 30).

The local authority says borough councillors would make "useful" tour guides for the town.

The local authority says borough councillors would make "useful" tour guides for the town.

It lists dozens of initiatives and projects to put the town on the map and sets out its goal for 2025: "Brand Northampton as an exciting place to visit".

It even proposes a series of new signs at the entrances to the town stating "don't drive through, stop and visit", and ask councillors to give guided tours.

The report, headed by Councillor Jamie Lane (Conservative, Boothville), reads: "[We propose that] by 2025, the cultural heritage offer of Northampton is a town... of rich heritage and historical significance... and that this is at the forefront of the town centre."

It comes after the borough council introduced a new £2 all-day parking charge on weekends in Northampton's multi-storey carparks, which critics say will drive people away from the town.

Footfall in Northampton reached 12.5million in 2017.

The report recommends Northampton should note from Hull - which was awarded city of culture in 2013 - and develop apps, websites and a tourism centre to raise the town's profile.

It proposes finding space for a tourism information centre for Northampton fitted with a cafe, and using empty retail units in the Grosvenor Centre to display artefacts from the Museum and Art Gallery,

Meanwhile, a new culture trail around town could be introduced using metal shoes to mark heritage spots with free maps distributed at the train station.

It reads: "The Scrutiny Panel felt it would be beneficial to the town for the Green Badge qualification, offered by the Institute of Tourist Guiding (ITG) to be investigated for Northampton.

"Councillors could be useful guides under the Green Badge initiative."

The report will be heard by the borough council's scrutiny committee on Monday (April 30).