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The question: European City of Culture

Last week Oxford, Newcastle, Bristol, Liverpool, Cardiff and Birmingham were shortlisted to be European Capital of Culture 2008, an honour that guarantees millions of pounds of investment in regeneration.

What would you want to see in a European Capital of Culture, and which city is the best candidate?

Birmingham would be my first choice. In recent years Britain's second city has undergone a huge transformation. It is often overlooked for international events either because London takes the glory or a smaller provincial capital is chosen to counterbalance the London effect. A new airport with associated infrastructure that compares with the Heathrow complex would not only relieve some of the ever increasing congestion around London and the South East but help solve the looming crisis in air travel in the UK.

Charles Brewerton, project engineer, Brighton

My ideal would have a Brunel opera house, a Telford theatre, a Smeaton museum of art, and a Stephenson sports stadium. You get the picture. Juxtaposing the names of the great blokes behind British civil engineering with our cultural heritage cannot be a bad idea. As for the venue, I once heard my old university city cruelly described by the locals as having as much culture as a tub of yoghurt. This honour would knock their socks off. I nominate Birmingham.

John Dadson, 52, journalist, Cambridge

After living there for a number of years, I would be biased towards Cardiff. Within a compact and understated capital, there is a wonderful mix of civic buildings, a result of the prosperity of the coal and steel industries, interspersed with marvellous modern structures including that cathedral of rugby, the Millennium Stadium. This is rounded off by sympathetic refurbishment and development work to existing buildings in between, breathing new life into what were in many cases formerly decrepit structures. Oh yeah, and then there is the culture bit, with several high quality theatres and galleries offering diverse productions to suit all tastes.

Finally nothing can compare with the atmosphere you experience when in Cardiff, especially walks through Bute Park on a frosty autumnal morning, and the patriotic yet cosmopolitan nature of its inhabitants.

David Lavin, 29, Tewkesbury

As a completely unbiased civil engineer I think it is an absolute pre-requisite that the European Capital of Culture has seven stunning city centre bridges and a friendly population that will openly embrace any excuse for a year long party! That's Newcastle then!

Tony O'Donnell, engineering manager, Oxfordshire (exiled Geordie)

I do not mind who wins. It is nice to see it cannot be London. At last something worthwhile is being done outside of the M25. It makes a pleasant change given the Wembley fiasco.

Tim Evans, 39, project manager, York

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