• George Oliver

Leicester Business Festival event: Where Leicester Leads

A few weeks after I founded 1284 in the summer of 2020 Rory Palmer and I had a catch-up


Rory was considering his next move after three years as an East Midlands MEP and I was doing the same after four years at the Mercury.


One outcome of this conversation was our collaboration on an event for the Leicester Business Festival a few months later.


We were joined by Professor Ivan Browne, the city’s director of public health services, who described his work during the pandemic and how Leicester might emerge from it positively.


Also with us were Mark Charlton - the associate director of public engagement at De Montfort University - and Jenny Cross, area leader for the Federation of Small Businesses and owner of Cross Productions.



George Oliver, Rory Palmer, Ivan Brown, Mark Charlton and Jenny Cross at the  2020 Leicester Business Festival event.
This time last year: The 2020 Leicester Business Festival panel.

The idea was that we would discuss what was then DMU’s emerging Build Back Better programme and how it might benefit the city post-pandemic. The event sold out.


Now, a year on, Rory and I are having another go at the business festival - this time looking backwards more than forwards in terms how the city has changed and continues to change.


Elected Mayor in Leicester


It’s ten years since Leicester switched to leadership by directly elected city mayor.


The move prompted the Institute for Government to ponder whether Leicester had instigated the ‘revolutionary constitutional change of 2011’.


The headline of the Guardian’s leader proclaimed ‘Where Leicester Leads’.


Our LBF event this year will see Sir Peter Soulsby, the city’s elected mayor since the position was created, discuss what the role has meant for the city and where it may lead next.


In doing so, he will be joined by Helen Donnellan, with whom he worked closely on the city council's Inward Investment and Place Marketing from 2014 to 2018 and who is now DMU's Director of Enterprise and Business Services.


Also joining us will be Dr Kate Broadhurst, lecturer in International Business, Strategy and Innovation at Loughborough University, who specialises in enterprise and whose research covers economic development and place-based partnerships.


Rory Palmer, as deputy mayor from 2011 to 2017, will chair the panel and provide further insight into the role of mayor as well as activity during the period.


How to get tickets


Time for the event is limited, so the panel will focus specifically on economic development, the attraction of investment and promotion of enterprise, and the city’s national and international profile.


Audience members can also expect reflection and thoughts on the first ten years of mayoral leadership - as well as future challenges and opportunities, including potential next steps for city and city region devolution.


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