Essex wants own 'Angel of the East' to counter 'wideboy' image

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The Independent Online

The East of England has often been dismissed as a tedious backwater of flatlands and fens, inhabited by the likes of Alan Partridge, Radio Norwich's naff fictional DJ.

But now it is aiming to reinvent itself by commissioning a regional landmark that will place it on Britain's tourist trail and invigorate the local economy. The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) hopes a regional marker will give it the recognition Antony Gormley's Angel of the North gave the North-east.

An international competition has been launched for a landmark after research found people in Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire had a weak sense of collective identity.

An EEDA spokeswoman said the region was also battling with unfair stereotypes, including the "Essex wideboy", and Mr Partridge. As the home of countless ecological reserves and cathedrals, the subject of Constable's landscapes and the birthplace of Benjamin Britten and Dick Turpin, she said the tourist had plenty of reasons to visit.

The development agency has been remarketing the region since it was officially created in 1999 after a county amalgamation. The landmark will be selected from competition entries which can range from a sculpture or a building to musical composition or "virtual" art.

The deadline for entries is 18 February and the panel will select up to three finalists who will be awarded £250,000 to develop the shortlisted ideas.

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