18 September 2023

Tory MP and former Labour minister confirmed as East Midlands mayoral candidates

18 September 2023

A current Tory MP and former Labour minister have been chosen as candidates in the East Midlands mayoral election next year.

Councillor Ben Bradley, the Conservative MP for Mansfield and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council said he was “delighted” to have been confirmed as the party’s candidate for the election on May 2 2024.

Meanwhile, Claire Ward has been confirmed as Labour’s candidate.

Ms Ward was previously the MP for Watford from 1997 to 2010 and has served as a junior justice minister, and is now the chairwoman of the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

I think (there) is a sense of frustration that the East Midlands has been left behind for so long, and we haven't got the investment that we need.

Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Bradley said: “This role, and the Combined Authority that the mayor will lead, comes with billions in additional investment for our part of the world, and a huge opportunity for us to make meaningful changes to local jobs, skills, infrastructure, housing and more.

“Unlike any other candidate, this whole region is my home.

“I grew up in North Derbyshire, went to school in Derby, university in Nottingham and live in North Notts [sic].

“I’ve spent my whole life in these communities and it would be an absolute honour to be able to translate the successes we have and are achieving in Mansfield and Nottinghamshire through my current work into something even bigger for the whole of our region.”

While Mr Bradley must legally give up his role on Nottinghamshire County Council if he wins, it is unclear whether he will stand for his seat at the next general election, which he has held since 2017.

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics East Midlands on Sunday, Ms Ward said: “I think (there) is a sense of frustration that the East Midlands has been left behind for so long, and we haven’t got the investment that we need.

“I stepped away from politics in the sense I moved up here, I brought my children up here, I’ve lived up here for over 10 years, got involved in my local community, but I just feel that we have to make the case for better jobs, better schools, (and) new opportunities.

“I don’t want my family to feel that there’s nothing here in the East Midlands when I know that there is so much opportunity, and I want to be able to grasp that as the mayor and make the best for our communities and our towns and our cities.”

The winner of the mayoral election will head the new East Midlands Combined County Authority, a new devolution model which will be introduced through the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire County Councils, and Derby and Nottingham City Councils, will be involved in the devolution, which will give the region £38 million of funding a year for 30 years, or a total of £1.14 billion.

Leicestershire County and Leicester City Councils opted not to join the authority.

The combined authority will work on wider issues like transport, regeneration, and employment, with local councils still responsible for most public services.

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