Why everyone wants to get sent to Coventry!

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Why everyone wants to get sent to Coventry!


A week on from my most recent Solace (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives) Masterclass I was reflecting on the ever inspirational CEO of Coventry City Council, Martin Reeves as he set out the journey that Coventry and Warwickshire have been on with their place story and place led activity. Amazingly it was on this day 8 years ago at MIPIM (fondly remembered ☹) that I was told Martin will spare you 5 minutes at Coventry and Warwickshire’s end of the show show! In an intense but stimulating discussion his concerns were the place had so many assets but lacked profile, confidence and there wasn’t enough collaboration; plus place marketing had been tried and not achieved sufficient traction. His reflections last week highlighted the transformation there has been: a clear sense of direction in a forward looking narrative, widened place leadership from a Place Board with the council ‘driving from the back seat’ and an ambassadors programme, the Champions bringing c200 people together on a bi-monthly basis to hear about initiatives across the place.

 

The buzz, connection of organisations with their place, strong connection between Coventry and Warwickshire, strengthened role within the Midlands, fantastic links with both universities and tremendous self-belief are just some of the changes. And the results just keep on coming including city centre regeneration, significant inward investment, a series of high profile events including European City of Sport last year and the crowning jewel of being awarded UK City of Culture 2021! These didn’t come directly from the new place led approach but it created the right environment for them to happen. These are wonderful milestones but the work continues and as Martin made clear it’s critical that the benefits reach all not a few in the community, a constant challenge.

 

A shared approach, a collaborative effort and a city and county that’s really going places.

 

John Till, Director

12th March 2020