The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP made a surprise visit to the Golden Mile following his attendance at Leicester Cathedral for a Thanksgiving ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the expulsion of Ugandan Asians.
The secretary of state for communities and local government was escorted along Belgrave Road on Saturday June 15 by the chairman of Belgrave Business Association and owner of Bobby’s restaurant, Dharmesh Lakhani.
The Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar visited jewellery and saree shops and got to taste some delicious Indian food in one of Britain’s most well-known curry destinations. The city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby was also present and spoke about the regeneration work in the area.
Speaking about the experience, Mr Pickles said: “It was great to spend Saturday with the vibrant Belgrave Road community, to see the dazzling jewellery shops, elegant sari boutiques and wonderful restaurants. The world renowned ‘Golden Mile’ is a terrific asset to Leicester bringing people of all backgrounds together, not least by hosting the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India.”
Mr Lakhani said: “It was an honour to have the secretary of state Eric Pickles visit the Golden Mile, especially at such short notice. His visit gave us the opportunity to demonstrate the diverse businesses in this area that have added so much to the city both in terms of its culture and economy.”
Assistant city mayor councillor Manjula Sood was also present during the visit and tied a rakhi (sacred thread) on the MP’s wrist for his raksha (wellbeing).
She said: “It was good for Eric Pickles to visit Belgrave Road on the request of the Belgrave Business Association. He spoke to the people on Belgrave Road and seemed to be very impressed and certainly enjoyed his tea at Bobby’s.”