Lawrence Barton appointed as Birmingham’s first Night-Time Economy Champion

10 November 2022

Lawrence Barton, the Festival Director for Birmingham Pride, has become Birmingham’s first Night-Time Economy Champion after he received the backing of the Leader of Birmingham City Council and the Chairs of the City Centre Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).

The new role mirrors equivalent roles in London and Greater Manchester and will see Lawrence work with the Council, BIDs and local stakeholders to champion Birmingham’s thriving nightlife and ensure that people can have a safe and enjoyable time when they visit the city centre.

Lawrence is an entrepreneur, businessman and a champion for the LGBT+ community. He is a senior director of a cross-sector business group and is the Festival Director of Birmingham Pride and Leadership Commissioner for the West Midlands Combined Authority. In recognition for his community activism, Lawrence was appointed to be a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands.

Commenting on his appointment, Lawrence said: “I’m eager to get started as Night-Time Economy Champion. There’s a pressing need for action on the serious challenges facing venue operators. Not least the spiralling price of utilities, the need to recruit and retain high-quality staff, and the problems which clubs such as mine encounter from encroaching residential developments.

“I intend to take a holistic approach to drawing up the plan to protect and enhance the city’s nightlife. This means bringing together all the key stakeholders – including the police, business owners, and employees – to come up with a design which will futureproof our night-time economy so it can be enjoyed for years to come.

“What I really need now is for those stakeholders to get onboard with what we’re doing. There’s not a moment to waste.”

Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “In Labour’s manifesto A New Deal for Birmingham, we set out our commitment to help our night-time economy to thrive by appointing a Night-Time Economy Champion.

“Lawrence is a fantastic advocate for our city and has done so much to promote Pride and the Gay Village. I look forward to working closely with him in his new role as we work to make Birmingham’s Night-Time Economy more enjoyable and safer for everyone, right across our city.”

Nicola Fleet-Milne, CEO of FleetMilne and Chair of Colmore Business District, said: “Birmingham’s vibrant night life has been going from strength to strength for many years. Like most industries, it has had a challenging two years, working to get through and recover from the Pandemic. The Chairs of the City Centre BIDs are supportive of this initiative to give real focus to our night-time economy, and Lawrence, with his passion and wealth of experience, is the right person to drive this agenda on behalf of the city as a whole.”

Lawrence will take up his role as Night-Time Economy Champion subject to completion of the Council’s decision-making process.