I have had the privilege of serving the people of Leicester for almost half a century. I have represented the city as a councillor, an MP, and having served as a leader of the council and also as City Mayor. Leicester has been my home throughout, and I am enormously proud to have spent most of my life working here.
In 2011, I was elected as Leicester’s first directly elected city mayor to run the city.
Having someone who has been elected by the people of Leicester and who is then clearly accountable for the decisions made by the council is a big step forward, but I believe one that can bring about significant change and lasting improvements. I was re-elected in 2015 on a very clear manifesto and re-elected again in 2019.
I have set about delivering the pledges and commitments I presented to the people of Leicester, as well as continuing to deliver many of the projects and initiatives from my first two terms.
With the stability of a four-year term, I am able to take a longer-term view of what we want to achieve in the city. Gone are the days of the council leadership being put up for grabs every year and, whenever changes came, a different approach adopted.
We are now more able to plan our future with confidence and vision with this enhanced stability.
Although I have full decision-making powers, it is important that I listen to what people tell me they want before making big decisions. Together with the Deputy City Mayors and Assistant City Mayors, I spend as much time as possible out in the community, talking to people about their hopes and ambitions for the city.
Answering directly to the people you serve must be the right way of running major cities like Leicester.
I was born in Bishop Auckland but have lived in Leicester for over 50 years. I moved to the city to train to become a teacher at the City of Leicester College of Education and was awarded my degree at Leicester University.
In 1973, I was elected as a Councillor, representing Spinney Hills ward. Eight years later, I became leader of the council – a position I held almost continuously for 17 years.
During this time, I oversaw the council’s transition from district council to a unitary authority, taking on responsibility for all local government services in Leicester. I also spearheaded the renewal of terraced housing across the city and the City Challenge programme - bringing over £400m of jobs and regeneration to Leicester – including the land for the King Power Stadium and the development of the National Space Centre.
I was immensely proud to be knighted by the Queen in 1999 for services to the city.
In 2005, I became Member of Parliament for Leicester South and represented the constituency for six years having retained the seat in 2010. I resigned a year later to stand for election as Leicester’s first directly elected city mayor.
I won that election in May 2011, polling almost 47,000 votes – 55% of the votes cast - against ten other candidates. I was re-elected in 2015 and May 2019 - currently serving as Leicester’s city mayor for a third term.
Over the last ten years as mayor, I have been committed to making Leicester a proud and self-confident city, leading the delivery of the Connecting Leicester programme, investing in walking and cycling infrastructure, developing quality public realm - including Jubilee Square and Green Dragon Square - whilst also transforming the waterside to attract and facilitate regeneration developments such as Pioneer Park, Great Central Square and Space Park Leicester.
My late wife and I have three children and nine grandchildren.