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20/01/2017
Speaker panel announced for Black Country LEP Annual Conference

Confirmed speaker panel

The Black Country LEP is pleased to announce a spectacular speaker line-up for our 2017 Annual Conference.

Guest speaker and Chairman of Rimstock PLC, David Roberts, will share his experiences and the challenges of growing a business quickly.

We will also be hosting an Open Forum and Q&A session with the West Midlands Combined Authority Mayoral candidates ahead of the elections this May.

We are delighted that James Burn (Green), Peter Durnell (UKIP), Beverley Nielsen (Liberal Democrat) and Andy Street CBE (Conservative) have all confirmed their attendance to date.

Sion Simon (Labour), also a West Midlands Combined Authority Mayoral candidate, is unfortunately unable to attend.

Speaker profiles are available below.

The event is proving extremely popular and early registration is essential.

An agenda will be circulated to attendees nearer to the event.

>>Register here<<

Date: Thursday 2 March 2017
Time: 8am – 10:30am
Venue: West Bromwich Albion FC The Hawthorns, West Bromwich West Midlands, B71 4LF

#BCLEPConference17

Speaker profiles

Guest speaker: David Roberts - Chairman of Rimstock PLC


A serial entrepreneur specialising in the manufacturing sector with globalisation and growth opportunities.

David Roberts is a veteran industrialist with over 40 years in the automotive and aerospace sectors. He is a Black Belt Lean Sensei and one of the founders of the LEI. His key strengths are prescriptive and evolutionary strategy with strong strategic vision and motivation skills ideally suited for resolving business issues. He has strong experience of International operations and markets, MBOs/MBIs and Mergers & Acquisitions.

He floated Soda Club on Nasdaq in 2011 which became one of the top 3 successful IPO’s in 2011-12. He was the preferred bidder for the Government owned Remploy business in 2012 which he successfully privatised to become a leading supplier to JLR, Aston Martin and Ford whilst retaining all the core values of employment for disabled and disadvantaged people.

He acquired Rimstock PLC in June 2016 based on his vision for quadrupling the business by 2020 into one of the world’s leading automotive wheel manufacturers; backed by an ambitous capital investment plan.

He is Chairman of Stretford Group that owns industrial and decorative coatings companies in the UK, Europe, USA, China and India.

He has a deep understanding of UK automotive sector with strong relationships with JLR, Aston Martin, McLaren, Lotus, Bentley and Morgan.


West Midlands Combined Authority Mayoral candidates:

James Burn – Green candidate


James is currently an elected councillor for Chelmsley Wood in Solihull. He is Leader of the Opposition on Solihull Council (one of the 7 constituent members of the WMCA).

James has lived in the West Midlands for more than 15 years and has worked across much of the region in the private, public and voluntary sectors including as a policy advisor within local government. He is a qualified social worker and currently runs his own small business.

James has been scrutinising the WMCA since its announcement in 2015 and has appeared on radio, TV and in the press discussing its development.


Peter Durnell – UKIP candidate


Pete gained an honours degree in Computer Science at Coventry (Lanchester) Polytechnic in 1985, and has lived in Oldbury since commencing his first employment as a trainee with Bass in West Bromwich.

In the intervening years Pete has worked in IT management and consultancy, largely as a troubleshooter and problem solver for a number of Blue-Chip companies and organisations.

Pete has represented UKIP in elections a number of times, increasing UKIP’s share of the vote on every occasion. Most recently he was a candidate in the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner election where he received more than 93,000 votes, approximately 17% of the total cast.  


Beverley Nielsen – Liberal Democrat candidate


Beverley Nielsen is the Liberal Democrat candidate for the election of the West Midlands Metro Mayor in May 2017. Born in the West Midlands, she has worked at Birmingham City University as a director for the last 10 years. She promotes university links to business, being recognised as Business Desk Ambassador in 2013. She has been an associate fellow at Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick for the past 17 years and introduced major initiatives linking employers to expertise in design and innovation. From 2001-2008, she was a director of FTSE-250 manufacturer AGA Rangemaster and became managing director of subsidiary Fired Earth. She was regional director of CBI West Midlands and chief executive of Heart of England Tourist Board for 10 years, and was awarded Midlands Business Woman of the Year.

In 2012, she founded business and university think tank IDEA Birmingham, which later became the Institute for Design and Economic Acceleration. She promoted Birmingham Made Me graduate jobs fairs and design expos which led to 30 new business start-ups. She is on the advisory board of the Design Council, a director of ART Business Loans, and chairman of Malvern Outdoor Elements which promotes outdoor learning for young people across the West Midlands. She lives in the West Midlands with her husband and three children.


Andy Street CBE - Conservative candidate


A proud Brummie, Andy Street has combined a career with John Lewis, Britain’s most successful workers’ co-operative, with a host of high-profile economic development roles, working with local and national government.

Andy became Managing Director of John Lewis Milton Keynes in 1993 working through the company to become Managing Director in 2007. During his tenure he oversaw a 50% increase in gross sales to over £4.4bn, a doubling in the number of stores and the growth of the company’s online business.

In May 2011, Andy Street was appointed Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, helping to build the relationships that have underpinned the economic growth of the region including negotiating a Growth Deal with Government worth £379m to help fund projects and schemes to drive economic growth.

Between 2010 and 2015, Andy was a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group. In January 2016, he joined the Department for Communities and Local Government’s board as the lead non-executive director.


Main image: courtesy of Cast Metals Federation.

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