The first public debate between the West Midlands Conservative Mayor Andy Street and the Labour Party Mayoral Candidate Richard Parker in 2024 will take place at Hockley Social Club, Birmingham on Monday 15 April.

A Head-to-Head at Hockley, hosted by leading political journalist and co-presenter of popular UK podcast The News Agents, Lewis Goodall (pic), will see the current mayor and mayoral hopeful debate policies and positions on a wide range of topics ahead of mayoral and local elections on Thursday 2 May. The event has been organised by the team behind the award-winning culture, food and drink destination as part of their commitment to curating a wide and welcoming programme all year round, with a particular focus on culture, collectivism, and community.

Income from paid-for ticket sales will be used to offset an allocation of free tickets for local businesses, schools, and community centres in the Hockley area of Birmingham, with both politicians appearing on a no-fee basis. Jack Brabant, director of Hockley Social Club said: "Hosting this debate cements the venue's commitment to fostering open dialogue on crucial issues that shape our region's future. 

“It is a real coup to be able to get Richard, Andy and Lewis under one roof, in front of a live audience at Hockley, debating the topics that matter to the West Midlands and beyond. By facilitating this discussion and ensuring local business owners have a seat at the table for the evening for free, we will do our bit to ensure that the voices and concerns of night-time economy businesses are not only heard but also prioritised.

“We're looking forward to seeing how the evening pans out." The head-to-head discussion before a live audience at the Jewellery Quarter venue - an acclaimed casual dining experience which has committed to opening up cultural experiences including ballet, classical and electronic music - comes as hospitality, bars, pubs, and grassroots music venues across the UK call for urgent support from local and central government. 

Several significant forces such as the cost-of-living crisis, changes to fan and consumer behaviour, post-Covid recovery, the UK’s departure from the European Union, and a widening gulf between small and major live entertainment and music businesses have had a catastrophic impact on the Out of Home Leisure Economy (OHLE) and Night Time Economy (NTE). Current West Midlands Mayor and Conservative Party politician Andy Street said: “I’m looking forward to coming along to Hockley to set out my ambitious plans for Birmingham and the West Midlands, covering everything from rethinking how our region builds Social Housing to protecting our heritage, from creating a world-class transport network to generating the quality jobs we need.”

Street, the former managing director of John Lewis, continued: “Since I became Mayor in 2017, the West Midlands has made real progress – we’re the only UK region to hit its housing targets, we have seen billions of pounds come here in investment, and events like the Commonwealth Games have brought real pride. But there is so much more to do and I look forward to sharing my plans to continue our region’s renewal.”

A Head-to-Head at Hockley host Lewis Goodall is a journalist, Analysis & Investigations Editor at Global, co-presenter of The News Agents podcast with Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel and writer for The New Statesman. Birmingham-born Goodall grew up in Longbridge, studied at Turves Green Boys' School and completed his A Levels at Cadbury Sixth Form College, before going on to study history and politics at St John’s College, Oxford.

Richard Parker, the Labour Party Candidate for West Midlands Mayor, said: “I want to thank the organisers for inviting me to Hockley to put forward my plan for a fresh start in the West Midlands.

“People are struggling across our region, there is inequality in every corner, and unacceptably high rates of unemployment. We’ve got the worst levels of economic growth in the country.

“It’s the Mayor’s job to fix this.” The qualified public finance accountant, who worked his way up to become a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, added: “I look forward to having an honest discussion about how we can actually build back the West Midlands and begin to help those who need it and how we can deliver for everyone.”

Drawing on the experience of delivering thousands of events in Birmingham and across the Midlands over 12 years via the acclaimed Digbeth Dining Club brand which continues to run major street food, drink, and cultural events across the Midlands, Hockley Social Club now employs 80 staff across its operation. Underpinning the business’s commitment to its home city, a non-profit arm utilising the expertise and skills of the team behind Hockley Social Club, Digbeth Dining Club CIC, undertakes cooking workshops, provides hot food for vulnerable people, delivers education and training, and presents community fun days across Birmingham and the Midlands.

West Midlands Mayoral Election 2024: A Head-to-Head at Hockley is from 19:00 to 20:30 on Monday 15 April 2024 at Hockley Social Club, 60 Hampton St, Birmingham B19 3LU. Tickets priced £5.00 plus £1.13 booking fee are available via