East Midlands Combined County Authority Mayoral candidates outline their hopes on the election campaign trail

Mayoral candidates for the newly-formed East Midlands Combined County Authority are working hard on the campaign trail and with just two weeks to go before the inaugural May 2 election they have been outlining their hopes and concerns for the region.
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The six candidates include Conservative Ben Bradley, Labour’s Claire Margaret Ward, Liberal Democrat Helen Louise Tamblyn-Saville, Independent Matt Relf, Green Party member Frank Adlington-Stringer and Reform UK’s Alan Graves.

An EMCCA spokesperson has stated: “A devolution deal was signed by the four upper tier councils of Derbyshire County Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Derby City Council and Nottingham City Council in November 2022.

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“The deal guaranteed a funding stream of £1.14bn spread over a 30-year period alongside devolved powers around transport, housing, skills and adult education, economic development and net zero.

The final six candidates for the East Midlands mayoral role are (clockwise from top left): Ben Bradley, Frank Adlington-Stringer, Claire Ward, Matt Relf, Alan Graves and Helen Tamblyn-Saville. Photo: OtherThe final six candidates for the East Midlands mayoral role are (clockwise from top left): Ben Bradley, Frank Adlington-Stringer, Claire Ward, Matt Relf, Alan Graves and Helen Tamblyn-Saville. Photo: Other
The final six candidates for the East Midlands mayoral role are (clockwise from top left): Ben Bradley, Frank Adlington-Stringer, Claire Ward, Matt Relf, Alan Graves and Helen Tamblyn-Saville. Photo: Other

“As part of the deal, a new East Midlands Combined County Authority has been created and it will be led by a new East Midlands Mayor.”

Conservative Ben Bradley, of Newark and Sherwood, in Nottinghamshire, is currently the Conservative Mansfield MP and Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council.

Mr Bradley said: “These elections are really important as the new regional Mayor will bring significant new funding to our area along with powers to make important changes.

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“If elected I will use the £4bn fund to fix our roads, to improve our public transport network and to bring in major new investment that creates jobs and regenerates our high streets.

“Mayors around the country work for their local areas, not for political parties. That’s why it’s vital we choose the right person, with the proper experience to do the job.

“I am the only candidate with local connections all across Derby and Derbyshire, and I’m the only candidate who has worked on both our transport services and all of our biggest regional investment projects; the key responsibilities of the Mayor.

“It’s important we get a Mayor who knows what they’re doing, and I believe that this experience makes me the right local person for the job.”

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Labour’s Claire Ward, also of Newark and Sherwood, is chairperson of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust which runs Sutton’s King’s Mill, Mansfield Community and Newark hospitals and she is also the Labour Party’s former Watford MP.

Mrs Ward said: “If I’m elected in May, I will make this region the best place to live, work and learn.

“That means getting a grip of our roads and making travelling easier and cheaper.

“I’ll back our high streets with new money, build the homes people need, tackle homelessness, and celebrate our region’s heritage as part of a new tourism strategy.

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“Whatever your political persuasion, I’ll be a Mayor that Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire can be proud of.”

Among Mrs Ward’s pledges in her selection campaign, according to the Labour List website, she also said she wants to establish a green growth fund to create new green jobs.

Liberal Democrat Ms Tamblyn-Saville, of Bassetlaw, in north Nottinghamshire, is described on the Bassetlaw Liberal Democrats’ website as the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Bassetlaw and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.

Ms Tamblyn-Saville said the Liberal Democrats believe in change from the grassroots up, not the top down, and as Mayor she would work collaboratively with councils and communities to find solutions, rather than grandstanding from the top.

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She added: “My priorities include improved transport links that are affordable and accessible to all, with simplified ticketing.”

Ms Tamblyn-Saville said there is a need for affordable housing, and much needed social housing to be built to a high standard and brownfield land will be important to achieving this with new homes built to Passivhaus standards to help meet net zero goals, and green retrofitting of existing homes should begin using local installers to keep revenues generated within the local economy.

She added: “No major decisions should be made in the region without considering the environmental impact.

“This is why on day one in office, I would declare a climate emergency, launching a climate and sustainability forum. I’ll be the Mayor to ensure group-up collaboration across the region, not top-down dictation.”

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Ashfield Independent Matt Relf, of Sutton in Ashfield, in Nottinghamshire, is currently an Ashfield District councillor.

Mr Relf said: “We may not have asked for it but devolution offers a massive opportunity for real change in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire with more funding and powers to decide things locally.

“With the right Mayor in place we will be able to transform transport in the region – both public transport and fixing the roads – give businesses the support and investment they need to thrive, give everyone the access to the skills training they need, and build the affordable and ultra-efficient homes we need for the future while helping retrofitting existing homes.

“I am the right person for the job as I have direct professional experience in all of these areas, I am the most successful councillor in the UK at unlocking additional funding from Government, I already work with the councils and partners of the region and I am completely free of influence of party leaders in Westminster, so I can always speak up for what is right for our region.

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“If we want real change for our region vote Independent this May, vote Matt for Mayor.”

Green Party member Frank Adlington-Stringer, of Wingerworth, Chesterfield, is a NE Derbyshire District Councillor and he serves as the Vice Chairperson on the council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee and he also serves on the council’s Joint Scrutiny Committee.

Mr Adlington-Stringer has highlighted many environmental concerns and perspectives on issues discussed during NE Derbyshire District’s Full Council meetings.

He has expressed concerns about the need to support the environment, combating climate change, achieving clearer waterways and better public transport while reducing carbon emissions as well as expressing a commitment to increasing re-wilding schemes and enhancing biodiversity.

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Mr Adlington-Stringer was asked for a comment but by the time of publication he had not yet responded.

Reform UK’s Alan Graves, of South Derbyshire, is a Derby City Councillor and Derby’s Mayor.

Despite his EMCCA Mayoral candidacy, Mr Graves claims a public consultation expressed a ‘negative response’ at the prospect of a new Mayor and he had wanted a referendum on the subject in 2022.

He said: “The waste of money is extreme, the idea of a new politician being added to the many thousands that already exist is preposterous and the role of this new Mayor merely replaces the responsibilities of some Government departments and areas of the local authorities.”

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Mr Graves claims that £19m has already be drawn down partly to pay for the existence of a new Mayor and partly to pay for the election costs which, he says, stand at an estimated £4m.

He added that he is ‘fighting to restore justice’ and seeks ‘to abolish the post’ and he aims to spend most of his time working to convince the Government to remove the post to save millions of pounds that he feels needs spending on better things.

Mr Graves said: “Electing me will create ‘a spanner in the works’ and make all the old parties sit up and take notice of you, the people of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.”

East Midlands Combined County Authority held its first meeting in March at Chesterfield Borough Council’s Town Hall bringing together representatives from the four agreed local authorities.

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The devolution deal leading to the creation of EMCCA means there will be a guaranteed funding stream of £1.14bn to be spread over 30-years with devolved powers around transport, housing, skills and adult education, economic development and net zero targets.

The EMCCA Mayor is soon to be elected by residents in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Nottingham and following their appointment, they will focus on transport, net-zero targets and housing, improving lives, and championing major infrastructure projects and they will have closer links to Westminster so they will be better placed to lobby Government.

It is hoped that a new regional mayor will also give the region more influence and create a contact for businesses and other organisations and make a strong case to the Government for more investment in the East Midlands.

EMCCA’s longer term aspirations include seeking more powers from Westminster and placing more decisions at local level.

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Leicester City and Leicestershire County councils declined to join EMCCA, but it is understood they have agreed to a lesser potential devolution deal with Rutland County Council which will not require a new mayoral post and is not expected to deliver the same level of investment.

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