Latest News | 9 July 2024

Bringing positive change and ‘shifting the dial’

Derby City Council
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In the latest edition of Marketing Derby’s Innovate Magazine, we catch up with Derby City Council chief executive Paul Simpson, as he reflects on his first five years since re-joining the authority.

In a question-and-answer session with Innovate, Paul looks back on what has been achieved since he returned to the city council in 2019 – and took up the post of chief executive in 2020.

He also sets out the work that still needs to be done to make Derby a better place.

When asked how he feels the city has progressed over the past five years, Paul tells Innovate: “I think we’ve seen a lot of positive change.

“Those first two years were dominated by the pandemic, but, in that time, we did, I think, a lot of really good work to set the foundations for what was to come.

“We made some big decisions, and we had some quick wins, which build confidence and give people a sense that things are changing for the right reasons and in the right way.”

Paul counts SmartParc SEGRO Derby, a high-tech food manufacturing site at Spondon – and the new Becketwell performance venue, among those successes.

He said: “SmartParc is obviously one that stands out, I think, because of the level of government support we got for that project and the decisions the council took to put some of its own money into that scheme.

“To see that coming out of the ground over the last few years and people being employed there has been tremendous.

“But, also, there was the decision we took very early on around the Becketwell performance venue.

“We had formed an economic recovery steering group as a response to the pandemic, uniting a wide range of partners, and it felt as though we were making decisions together as a city and, I think, that really helped bind Team  Derby as we called it from that point on.”

Today, the city council’s focus is firmly on the regeneration of the city centre.

When asked about where Derby is in terms of its efforts to reimagine the city centre, Paul told Innovate: “We’re probably still  at Base Camp because that kind of change takes time.

“But we’ve got a pipeline of projects now that probably takes us into the next decade.”

According to Paul, the difference between Derby as it was and Derby as it is now is that promised projects are being delivered, which in turn, raises confidence.

Paul said: “I remember saying when I first became chief executive that there were lots of examples in the past where the city had said it was going to do something but never did. Promises were made and not backed up.

“But, I think, what we’ve achieved over the last few years demonstrates that if there’s a will, a common sense of purpose and political and senior leadership support, you can make things happen.

“Despite the difficulties of a pandemic and the economic challenges which have followed, we’ve begun to make those changes.

“I think we have shifted the dial – and raised confidence. People are saying that stuff is happening in Derby.”

To read the Q&A in full visit .

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