Southend is to compete with Manchester, Durham and Derby to become the first UK Capital of Culture in 2013, it has been revealed.

Arts group Metal and regeneration company Renaissance Southend are backing the council’s bid to become a national showcase for culture and creativity that could potentially attract thousands of visitors to the town.

The winning place, to be announced next spring, will host some national cultural events which have not yet been revealed, as well as putting on a year-long programme of their own. There will also be national promotion of the town or city in an effort to encourage people to attend events and celebrations during the year.

Towns with similar accolades, including Liverpool which was European City of Culture in 2008, saw a massive increase in tourism as a result of winning the title.