The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has appointed restaurateur Alex Claridge as Night Time Economy Advisor for the region.

In his role, Claridge will act as a champion for the West Midlands nightlife scene, including music venues, theatres and nightclubs, as they look to rebuild following the challenging last few years.

Claridge, who appeared on BBC One programme Great British Menu, is currently the chef-patron of The Wilderness restaurant, as well as the owner of cocktail bar and creative studio, Atelier Birmingham.

He has long been a vocal advocate for the sector, leading campaigns for sector support, alongside working as a consultant for several local hospitality businesses and projects.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has already helped establish night-time advisors in London (Amy Lamé), Greater Manchester (Sacha Lord), and Bristol (Carly Heath).

NTIA CEO Michael Kill welcomed the latest appointment: “The NTIA has been an advocate for this role for many years, campaigning for every city and town across the country to have a nightlife champion, in a bid to strengthen the network of representation and promote the important role the industry plays in the recovery of the country and the ongoing economic success of our communities across the UK.

“We are looking forward to continuing our work with West Midlands Combined Authority and Alex, actively helping to support and develop the role within the region, as well as playing a part in promoting and shaping nightlife across the UK.”

Claridge was chosen for the role following a WMCA recruitment process that also involved Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA. Claridge will work closely with Lawrence Barton, Birmingham City Council’s night-time champion.

Claridge said, “It is a privilege to offer my time and energy to the city and wider region that has been so very kind to me over the years. Our region would be a very dull place indeed without the continued existence and evolution of the many spaces and places that animate our evenings.

“It takes a certain talent, character, and energy to work in or run the many diverse businesses that make our evenings memorable. I want to harness that creativity and tenacity to fight the good fight. For many of us operating across the broad banner of the night-time economy, the tigers have found us.

“I know many of my peers today are cornered – rising energy prices, staff shortages, strikes, rapidly increasing costs, and the rest of it. With such talent in our region, it is my good fortune to be asked to serve as the West Midland’s first Night Time Economy Advisor and it is my promise that I will fight alongside you to achieve change. We will fight present challenges together, and we will celebrate the dynamic future I still believe in for hospitality together.”