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 and studied at the City of Leicester College of Education and the University of Leicester. In 1973, I was elected to Leicester City Council. Eight years later, I became Leader of the Council – a position I held almost continuously for the next 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 Leicester’s 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.
In 1999, I was immensely proud to be knighted by the Queen for services to the City of Leicester.
In 2005, I contested, and won, the parliamentary seat of Leicester South and remained as a Member of Parliament for that constituency until April 2011, when I resigned the seat in order to stand for election as Leicester’s first directly elected City Mayor.
On May 5 2011, I won that election against ten other candidates, polling almost 47,000 votes – 55% of the votes cast. I was re-elected in 2015, and I am privileged to have been re-elected again in May 2019 to serve as Leicester’s City Mayor for a third term, increasing my share of the vote by 6%.
I've also been the Head of Regions for the British Lung Foundation and Deputy Chair of British Waterways.
I've lived in Leicester for more than 40 years. My late wife and I had three children, Cassandra, Eleanor and Lauren, and nine grandchildren.