South Cambs MP Heidi Allen in mayoral bid

Summary

Five Labour candidates have put themselves forward, along with independent candidate Peter Dawe. Heidi Allen MP now joins them.

From the outset, I declare that I spoke out against the proposals for devolution when they were initially launched. Have a listen to this interview with Dotty McLeod of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire at an event in Newmarket.

I also concur with many of the concerns former Cambridge MP Prof David Howarth pointed out in this presentation in Cambridge

Ms Allen was on the radio this morning – a link to which is in her website statement here.

Cambridge tech entrepreneur Peter Dawe – who has written and campaigned about many things to do with Cambridge’s infrastructure, has also confirmed he is standing. He sold his local TV company, Cambridge TV in order to do so. Have a listen to one of his ideas below.

I still don’t know why South Cambridgeshire councillors didn’t take him up on this regarding Northstowe. Mr Dawe’s site is still under development, but expect something soon at http://www.dawe.co.uk/

Local blogger Phil Rodgers (now back in the Lib Dems fold) spotted several Hunts Labour candidates:

Cambridge housing chief Cllr Kevin Price has also put his name forward – being one of the people that negotiated the Cambridge housing element:

A more detailed interview with Josh Thomas of the Cambridge News is at http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/cambridge-city-councillor-kevin-price-12273878

At the time of posting, I’ve not been notified of anyone else standing. It remains to be seen if the Greens and the Liberal Democrats put candidates forward. Less likely with the former, more likely with the latter – simply because of the stupendously high deposit required for this election – which also rules me and Puffles out. £5,000 is just too much. A deliberate ploy to restrict it to parties and those with independent wealth. No other reason for it. (£500 would have been enough – or even £100 to have allowed crowd-sourced independents to stand without a free-for-all).

“So…are you going to boycott the whole thing?”

Quite the opposite. Hopefully through the likes of The Democracy Club we’ll be able to get a group of us together to makes sure people across the county and in Peterborough have easy access to clear and impartial information about what the elections are and are not about. (In particular the limitations – managing people’s expectations and all that). Fortunately it looks like these elections will coincide with the county council elections. I expect I’ll be filming various short videos and extended hustings as I did with the 2015 general election.

“And all candidates given the same offer?”

Exactly – just as with the general election and local elections in 2015. The way I see it especially with the short videos is that people get the chance to decide whether they want to have a conversation with the candidate concerned. Thus with each video clip I state the questions in advance so as to put them at ease, offer retakes and give them clearance before publishing should they desire it. All I care about is getting decent video footage of as many candidates as possible. The content of what they say, and what they do with the videos once they are up online…well that’s up to them.

“And you’re going to do all of that despite being opposed to the policy?”

Yeah.

“Why?”

***Because democracy!!!***

Also, no one else is going to do it. No one else would be as nice/foolish/desperate as me to give candidates such an easy ride. (Having stood for election with Puffles in 2014, I kind of have a different perspective to other community reporters, bloggers or journalists, having faced audiences able to ask questions on what is important to them, rather than what I think should be important to them. Here’s a speech from my second ever hustings, taking Qs from members of King’s College Cambridge’s politics society. They didn’t pull their punches either.

…a hustings that was also live-tweeted.

See my blogpost here on my first thoughts on being grilled.

“Have you got a wishlist of things you’d like candidates to commit to?”

Yes – but none of them will be in a position to commit to things they cannot deliver. Whereas if they had allowed me and/or Puffles to have stood, we would have talked about whatever we wanted, unencumbered by the limitations of faded and failed politicians that came up with this policy. (For the record, I’d like to see a unitary authority with significant revenue raising powers for Cambridge and the surrounding wards and districts, and a similar one for Peterborough. The Government’s policy is a fudge).

“What are the immediate challenges?”

For me the two big ones involve powers and alternative sources of funding.

Will the mayors need more powers, and if so how will they go about first of all identifying them and then secondly lobbying ministers for them?

The second is about funding: How will mayors be able to raise revenue from other sources without constantly handing out a begging bowl to Treasury ministers?

Only once those two are dealt with can you get involved in the details of which plans to back and building working relationships with other organisations. Note that the public sector is notorious for turf wars. Expect some parts of the police, health, job centres/social security institutions to try and ignore the mayors by saying their line of reporting is to their Whitehall department. This goes onto wider policy risk management. What are the things that could go badly wrong with being a county mayor and how will you manage those risks? We know this is an important question because me and Puffles gave evidence to the Public Administration Committee in 2013, and they put this point at the top of their recommendations here. That was after we had stung the cabinet minister responsible for the policy.

Finally, as with all big county-wide infrastructure, what is the historical context? These two books contain a wealth of information – even though they date from 1950.

The maps alone being works of art

Cambridge Map of Roads Holford 1950 HiRes

So…yeah…read up on your county planning history ladies and gentlemen. We’ll be asking you questions about what didn’t work in times gone by and why.

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