The vi­sion to make an im­pact

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Westminsterlife - Ste­wart Jack­son

Nat­u­rally, I was very pleased that Cllr James Palmer, the Leader of East Cam­bridgeshire Dis­trict Coun­cil, was cho­sen on Satur­day as the Con­ser­va­tive Party can­di­date for the new job as Ex­ec­u­tive Mayor for the Cam­bridgeshire and Peterborough area, with elec­tions due in May. I backed him from day one and he seemed to be the one with the vi­sion needed to make the big­gest im­pact lo­cally and na­tion­ally.

I’m a de­vo­lu­tion scep­tic (or at least I was) but now the Gov­ern­ment has of­fered se­ri­ous money and pow­ers and our area is to have con­trol – through a Mayor and Com­bined Au­thor­ity – of a size­able bud­get on things like growth and strate­gic plan­ning, skills and train­ing and trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, I will do my best to work with oth­ers across the county to make it work. De­vo­lu­tion means pass­ing pow­ers down to the most lo­cal level from cen­tral gov­ern­ment and I think that means work­ing with other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, busi­nesses, char­i­ties, pub­lic ser­vices like the NHS and elected of­fi­cials to get the max­i­mum ben­e­fit for lo­cal peo­ple.

The new Mayor will con­trol a new ad­di­tional £20 mil­lion a year fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion over 30 years to boost growth and a new £170 mil­lion ring-fenced fund to de­liver an am­bi­tious tar­get of new homes over a five year pe­riod – and will also have re­spon­si­bil­ity for chair­ing an area-based re­view of 16+ skills pro­vi­sion and co-de­sign­ing with Gov­ern­ment a new Na­tional Work and Health pro­gramme de­signed to fo­cus on those with a health con­di­tion or dis­abil­ity and the very long-term un­em­ployed.

I think James will be good for Peterborough – un­like some can­di­dates, he doesn’t think the job - and the money and ideas that go with it – stops at the bound­ary with the city of Cam­bridge and barely ex­tends past Hunt­ing­don­shire! Yes Cam­bridge’s suc­cess is im­per­a­tive but he re­alises too that Peterborough and Fen­land will now de­mand and de­serve a fair share of the wealth and in­fra­struc­ture to bring more busi­nesses, jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties to the north of the county.

We’ve dis­cussed the vi­tal need for an ex­pand­ing univer­sity pres­ence in Peterborough and I will be work­ing with the City Coun­cil and Op­por­tu­nity Peterborough on other key ini­tia­tives – in­clud­ing a re­fo­cus on rais­ing school stan­dards, lo­cal trans­port con­nec­tiv­ity, bet­ter qual­ity hous­ing on brown­field land and un­lock­ing the hugely im­por­tant city cen­tre North West­gate pro­ject, which has been de­layed for 30 years or more.

I’m gen­uinely ex­cited by the po­ten­tial the new Mayor has for mak­ing a long term and sus­tain­able dif­fer­ence to this city’s fu­ture and I hope to play a ma­jor role in those en­deav­ours.

Un­like some can­di­dates, he doesn’t think the job - and the money and ideas that go with it – stops at the bound­ary with the city of Cam­bridge

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