Let battle begin for county’s top job

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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Candidates for the Conservative nominee for the new post of elected executive mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are beginning to show their hand and announce their intentions, ahead of the vote next May.

Much like those who voted remain in the EU referendum, who should now concede the result and work for the best outcome for the UK outside the European Union, I was a devolution sceptic and I argued against the Government’s plans from the back benches last year but now accept the settled will of our six local authorities and wish to make the new governance arrangements a great success. I hope and expect the Government to keep its promises and honour its financial commitments.

So what should my constituents who are Conservative supporters be looking for in such a man or woman?

For me, political principle, honesty and integrity and a strong vision for the post. Experience and a track record of leadership in local government and a desire to work across both central and local government and key agencies like the Local Enterprise Partnership, to achieve the best results for our area. Someone who will speak their mind and ruffle a few feathers maybe?

I will only vote for a candidate who has a realistic and costed programme for the whole of the county and cares just as much for Peterborough and the Fens as they do for South Cambridgeshire or Huntingdon. Our area is never an adjunct or add on to the great city of Cambridge.

It’s time Peterborough received the funding and attention in needs to grow in the right way and to prosper. That means real cash money for our university, help dealing with the infrastructure pressures caused by mass migration and support for diversifying and rebalancing our local businesses away from food processing, retail and logistics towards high wage and higher skilled employment.

Perhaps an executive mayor will force the city council from their ill thought out policy of presiding over the neglect and degradation of our inner city areas....but I won’t hold my breath.

I won’t be voting for my Parliamentary colleague Heidi Allen. She has many talents but I don’t believe that you could or should “double job” this post and there are in any case better candidates in my opinion.

I will let Telegraph readers know who passes muster in my view, in due course. There’s no doubt that this is a big and important post and the people of Peterborough need to choose between the very best candidates.

Let the battle begin.