Our first Business Brew podcast was with Sunderland City Council Chief Executive Patrick Melia. Here is the full video from our BUSINESSiQ YouTube site, with a few extracts from our conversation:

The year ahead

“To a certain extent, 2024 will be a year of consolidation and making things come out of the ground that we've announced, but also very much turning our heads to the next three years and what else do we now need to be doing as a city.

“I think this last year has been a combination of a lot of hard work over the previous three years. It's about delivery in this next year and there is still lots to do and plenty to keep us busy.

“I'd like to be a bit further ahead. The cost of finance and inflation has just made a lot of things we're dealing with in the city around construction and getting things built so much harder. The negotiations with contractors are much harder because they're taking a much more detailed look at every line in the contract.”

Coping mechanism

“I think it's always good when you've got a good team around you - good people who are putting in a shift as well and you have a shared agenda, it makes life enjoyable.

“And I've got a good family around me, which is always such a big help. They keep me grounded and in touch with the real world, really.

“I'm trying to do a bit of exercise to keep myself fit, and sometimes I'm pretty consistent, but sometimes I don't do anything at all. I also try my hand at saxophone, which is always a bit of fun, as the family let me know when I hit a few bad notes. It's a good way just to relax because you've got nothing else to concentrate on but your music and your instrument in your hands. So you can't think about anything else.”


“I think it's going to be good for the region over this next few years, with more cash to support businesses that currently exist in the region to help them grow and flourish, more cash to help us bring new businesses into the region and leverage some further investment.

“If we're wise and we keep close as local authorities to the business community and its leaders, I think we'll do a really good job.

“It’s really positive as a local authority. We will still do what we always do in terms of the people of. Sunderland and fulfilling our responsibilities, but we'll have this regional goal facing into a new regional body that's got cash that we can use to either put strategically across the region or focus on some laser investments, maybe in the motor sector or green energy.”