Lessons to learn from the success of Leicester

Posted by pt91 at May 16, 2016 01:14 PM |
University of Leicester Management expert describes how the city’s remarkable rise in fame offers a model to others

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 16 May 2016

The city of Leicester’s success offers ‘pertinent lessons’ to others according to an expert in regional development at the University of Leicester School of Management.

Martin Quinn from the University of Leicester said Leicester had hit global headlines in the wake of the discovery of King Richard III under a car park and the success of the football club.

He said: “Leicester has made the headlines in a number of ways of late, home of the champions of English Football as well as highly successful basketball and rugby union teams. Even the cricket team started the 2016 season with a win. Coming shortly after the discovery of Richard III by University of Leicester archaeologists, it’s been quite a period in the limelight for a City once described by Terry Wogan as “often mentioned in traffic reports but otherwise unknown to mankind”. However as the ‘Economist’ has recently picked up on there’s a lot more to Leicester than sport and dead kings, as scholars of regional economic development show us.

“In many ways a classic example of a small to medium sized second tier city, Leicester has grasped the development opportunities presented to it by a succession of devolution and decentralisation policies put forward by Government since the mid 2000s.

“In doing so it offers a series of pertinent lessons for economic policy makers.”

Dr Quinn said there were three main lessons to be drawn from the experiences of both the East Midlands and Leicestershire. “I have discussed these elsewhere (Quinn 2013, Quinn 2015) but, briefly, they are that place has an important impact on policy outcomes, the role of local government is critical and that strong leadership is essential.

“Without the pull of regional identity or an obvious area of economic functionality to draw together the private sector the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) struggled to attract private sector involvement in its governance initiatives, especially outside of its Nottinghamshire base. For Leicestershire however this was not the case. Businesses in the City and County tend to have a clear sense of place and belonging and there are obvious economic advantages to be had from collective efforts to grow the Leicestershire economy.”

Dr Quinn said Leicestershire has benefited from strong political leadership throughout the last decade and including that of the Elected Mayor of the city, Sir Peter Soulsby.

Dr Quinn added: “A major element of the physical regeneration of the City has come through a focus on the cultural, arts and heritage industries. This was a bold move by the authorities as the City and County had little or no reputation as places with strong arts industries. The City Council and then the Elected Mayor pursued the creation of a new Cultural Quarter which transformed a previously derelict part of the City. This included the building of a multi-million pound theatre (CURVE) and independent cinema and arts centre (Phoenix) at a time when local authorities were under increasing pressure to reduce spending. Alongside this the City also tapped into the discovery of Richard III by creating the Leicester Heritage Trail emphasising the City’s rich, if largely ignored, history.

“As the Economist points out, Leicester was at one stage the second richest City in Europe behind Vienna and has the building stock to reflect this fact. The innovative reuse of old building stock and imaginative reworking of the City’s infrastructure has seen a growth in the number of small entrepreneurial businesses being set up with Leicester now having the fastest business growth rate outside of London according to the economist.”

Dr Quinn says that the credibility that Sir Peter Soulsby lent to the office of Mayor has allowed him to establish a clear role as the leader of the City’s economy: “There are echoes here of the manner in which first Ken Livingstone and then Boris Johnson have established the role of mayor for London as a much more powerful position than the legislation actually intended for. With rumours emerging that Andy Burnham is considering a run for the new position of elected mayor for Greater Manchester England could soon have a series of powerful political figures whose authority derives from their locality rather than Westminster. Leicester, as it does with sport, is at the forefront of these developments, and might be a model for others to follow.”

You can read a blog by Dr Quinn here: http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/2016/05/13/leicester-a-champions-league-city/



To interview Dr Quinn email mrq1@le.ac.uk

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