THE new leader of Worcester City Council has defended his stance on the City of Culture bid - saying he is "entirely chilled" about it.

Councillor Simon Geraghty says he believes most people in Worcester agree there are more pressing priorities right now than laying the groundwork for a bid for the title in 2021.

He has also insisted that the leadership is not prepared to "give a blank cheque" to any old project without assessing it fully.

It came amid clashes with Worcester's Labour group leader Cllr Adrian Gregson, who claimed his rival "does not intend to proceed" with the bid and should come clean.

Cllr Gregson was leader of the council until June, and the old Labour administration had agreed to proceed with a bid for Worcester to become the national City of Culture before losing power.

Last week Cllr Geraghty revealed the bid was not something he would look at in detail until the summer, saying other things need "immediate focus" like the cemetery and cutting car parking charges.

Cllr Gregson, speaking during a full council meeting, said: "In deciding to go cool on the City of Culture bid, notwithstanding the full page in City Life (the council's magazine) that says Worcester will bid, has he had any consultation or discussion at all with the long list of people who have already been very supportive and committed to it?"

He said "by implication he does not intend to proceed" and rattled off a long list of backers citing the likes of Worcester Cathedral, the Chamber of Commerce, Visit England, the Museum of Royal Worcester, other councils, retailers and city MP Robin Walker.

Cllr Geraghty said Labour were wrong to assume he'd made his mind up, and insisted there was no rush to make a decision.

"No prudent administration will give a blank cheque to any project, but it is something we will have to discuss with our partners in due course," he said.

"This is something I am entirely cool, chilled and relaxed about."