One of the leading candidates to be the county’s new mayor, Liberal Democrat Rod Cantrill, is already in disagreement with the city council over his key pledge to build a new Hampton railway station.
Council cabinet member for growth, planning, housing and economic development Councillor Peter Hiller said land is reserved for a Hampton station, but that the final decision on whether to build one is up to Network Rail.
He added: “The fact of the matter is Network Rail don’t have any plans to either fund or indeed provide a station. The Liberal Democrat candidate is simply promoting things he can’t deliver, which isn’t fair on the residents who believe he might be able to.”
Cllr Hiller’s words reveal the uncertainty surrounding a new Cambridgeshire combined authority, which will be run by the new mayor, as the leader of the city council will have to agree to the mayor’s transport plan before it can be approved.
A Network Rail spokesman said there are no plans to build a station in Hampton, but that it would consider if one was needed should the new mayor provide funding for it.
Mr Cantrill said: “Peterborough Conservative councillors would obviously say that the status quo is what we should accept. In doing so they are selling short residents who are telling me that as the city grows they want good public transport - such as new railway stations in the areas of the city where growth is taking place.
“As we have seen in Cambridge – where Liberal Democrats fought for a number of years for an additional railway station to the north of the city – it is possible to convince Network Rail to incorporate new stations into their plans.”
Voting system in mayoral election
The voting system to elect the new mayor gives non-Conservative candidates a better chance of winning.
Residents on May 4 will be asked to select a first choice and second choice candidate. If any candidate achieves more than 50 per cent of first choice votes they will be elected.
But, if no candidate achieves this then the two candidates with the most first choice votes will go into a second round and the other candidates will be rejected.
If people voted for a rejected candidate as their first choice, but put one of the top two candidates as their second choice, then their second choice vote will be counted.
The totals will then be added up again to determine who is the winner. The result will be announced in Soham the following afternoon.
The total costs of the mayoral elections are estimated to be £980,000. A combined authority spokeswoman said: “This includes specific costs such as ballot papers, fees and charges, as well as the candidate address booklet, which by law must be sent to each individual elector in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”