100 Club: Martin Allison, Quota Sales

Martin Allison, Director at Quota Sales, is a member of the Leeds Community Foundation’s 100 Club, a patronage scheme for individuals who are motivated to make a difference in Leeds. Here, he discusses what he loves about the city, and why he’s still involved in the foundation he chaired in 2013-15.


What is your favourite thing about Leeds?

The way the city keeps reinventing itself from historical agricultural and industrial revolutionary times to now the technological era with many Open Data opportunities and of course the Channel 4 film and TV programming potential. I especially loved the fact that when other cities had riots, Leeds was able to bring diverse communities together and marched for peace and mutual understanding hence preventing major disruption and costs to the city and its organisations.

What is your ideal day out in Leeds?

I know I should be more healthy but….a traditional breakfast at the Old Fire Station in Gipton, a stroll around Roundhay Park to walk it off followed by a bus ride into Leeds for a pie and pint and Whitelocks. A relaxing couple of hours reading at the Leeds Library (one of the largest private collections in the UK), an afternoon coffee at Pasta Romana and then an early evening gin at Iberica before heading back to Oakwood for a pint of real ale in Preston’s and then the best fish n’ chips in Leeds from the art deco Oakwood Chippy eaten in my back garden. Suddenly realised no work mentioned – ooops!

What is the best lesson you have learned in business?

Being respected far outweighs being liked and leaves a lasting legacy; respect needs to be earned and does not come with the title or role but is created over time along with trust, integrity and credibility.

What single thing do you think could help the city? 

It would be easy to say the ring road or transport generally but my biggest focus would be on health and happiness. I know it’s hard to measure but the stark inequality between life expectancy, educational achievement and wealth levels must mitigate against having the harmonious and happy place to which we aspire…..perhaps a British billionaire getting Leeds back into the Premier League would be a catalyst.

What inspired you to join the 100 Club?
When LCF needed support in the early days a few friends including Paula Dillon, Peter Yendell and others decided to support the CEO at the time and create a group of like-minded individuals who cared about the city and wanted to ensure the Community Foundation was supported in the important work it did.

What community issues are important for you? 

Community has many aspects and at present I think that we are in danger of dividing rather than uniting; as a result we are amplifying generational issues and sub-optimally dealing with the symptoms and consequences. This approach results in a vicious circle of demands for further financial resources whether that be as taxes, philanthropy or charitable donations. I’d like to see a much stronger civic infrastructure (with less duplication) supporting the great work of the many fantastic charities and social enterprises that already exist in this multi-cultural city.