Changing Wolverhampton – Simon Warren

We were joined this evening by Simon Warren, the Chief Executive of Wolverhampton City Council. A former Rotarian himself Simon comes to local Government by a somewhat unusual route. Originally an aviator with the Royal Air Force Simon’s 25 years in the service saw him flying Vulcan bombers and chasing down Russian submarines and Caribbean drug smugglers in Nimrods before ending his flying career enforcing the no fly zone over Iraq shortly after 9/11. The end of his flying days brought fresh opportunities and three years spent with NATO in the USA as Head of Strategic Management.

Once he’d left the service Simon looked for a way to put the change management skills which he’d acquired during his time with the Air Force to use and served as Rugby Council’s Chief Executive for four years before joining the team at Wolverhampton.

Despite the advantages of its location the Wolverhampton economy has been in decline since the mid 1970’s. Simon is adamant that he hasn’t joined the Council to manage decline and he and his team are focusing on promoting economic development around the City’s existing strengths. Naturally with his own background Simon has a particular interest in recognising the strength of the City’s existing aerospace companies and shortly after taking up his position the council took a stand at the Farnborough International Air Show in order to showcase and support our existing manufacturers and to attract other aerospace companies to the area. The City’s existing strong links with the Indian sub-continent are also seen as an opportunity to encourage both inward investment and export opportunities for manufacturers and the Council will look to build on these.

Simon noted the changes which had taken place in the City’s planning department and which were taking place in other parts of the Council to make departments more commercially sensitive and the important role which this played in encouraging investment into the area. He pointed to the recent decision of Jaguar Land Rover to build a new engine plant in the City as an example of how this approach was now paying dividends and with this and major retail developments by Tesco and Sainsburys about to get underway Simon is convinced that there will be a change in peoples attitudes in the City and that there will be a growing belief that things can be better.

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