With any luck, new mayors will be known by their first names—just like Boris and Sadiq areby Stephen Ibbotson / November 14, 2016 / Leave a comment
Around the world, many important and influential businesspeople know who Boris is. They know who Ken is, too. And they are already learning about Sadiq.
That’s because as Mayors of London, Messrs Johnson, Livingstone and Khan have all, in one way or another, played a role in raising the profile of our capital city on the world stage.
This has been done to boost the city’s exports—services more than goods—and to attract inward investment into one of the world’s great cities.
Imagine the day when Andy or Siôn are as internationally known as Boris and Ken. That will be the day when London’s rivals in the global business landscape include Greater Birmingham. And Manchester. And Liverpool. And Sheffield.
Andy Street, until recently managing director of the John Lewis Partnership, is the Conservative Party candidate to become the first elected Mayor of the West Midlands. His main rival is Siôn Simon, a Labour MEP and former Westminster politician.
Whichever of the candidates emerges as winner of the contest next May—it will almost certainly be one of the two—the task of establishing the West Midlands as an internationally known brand will be their first and toughest task.
Yet this is seen as essential by ICAEW chartered accountants, who advise businesses in the area on a daily basis. Members in other city regions believe the same is required of their mayors.
Mr Simon has already acknowledged the importance of creating a strong identity, complaining that the area suffers from the lack of a “premium global football brand”—a comment that did not go down well with the fans of Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City.
Yet the point he made is important in assessing the task facing the new crop of elected mayors who will be coming to power next year. The most significant of these will be in charge of the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, East Anglia and the West of England.
The winners will be expected to drum up business for their cities or regions. In the past, the sight of municipal leaders jetting off around the world on trade missions has often been dismissed as a freebie or a jolly offering little or no benefit to local taxpayers.
Yet in an era when Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union can make…