Councillor James Palmer, Leader of East Cambs District Council, announces bid to become mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

East Cambs Council leader James Palmer (third right) with George Freeman MP on the terrace at Westmi

East Cambs Council leader James Palmer (third right) with George Freeman MP on the terrace at Westminster last month after discussing investment in the A11 corridor. - Credit: Archant

Councillor James Palmer, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, has thrown his hat in the ring to become the new Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with hopes to “improve infrastructure and provide high quality housing for all”.

Cllr Palmer, who was elected to ECDC in 2007 and re-elected in 2011 and 2015, says that he stands out amongst the other candidates.

“Unlike some other candidates, I have been involved at the very core of devolution. For the past 12 months I have been meeting with government ministers here and in Westminster to negotiate a deal and secure the necessary funds for desperately needed infrastructure projects.

“I am thrilled with what’s been achieved to date. Far from being just another tier of government, a devolved combined authority will remove layers of bureaucracy and give absolute freedom to build, grow and develop this area based entirely upon the needs of the people who live in it.”

The 47-year-old, who lives in Soham, says he understands “what makes Cambridgeshire and Peterborough tick.

“Cambridgeshire is my home,” he said. “I have lived and worked here all my life. I think that is not just invaluable for truly understanding the needs of this area, but imperative.

“I have a deep understanding of the people and the local economy. A lack of investment over many years by many governments has lead to people begrudgingly accepting poor road and rail links and in some parts of the region, a lack of affordable housing. That isn’t good enough,” added the Cambridgeshire County Councillor.

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“In my role as Leader of ECDC I have been hugely frustrated by the length of time it is taking to build the Ely Southern Bypass and re-open Soham Railway Station.

“I have run businesses here and understand the challenges faced by employers and employees in this region. I have a family and am all too aware of the difficulties young people are confronted with today - affording university education and getting a foot on the housing ladder. And I live here. I use the roads and the trains.

“But, having been a county and district councillor for nearly a decade, and Leader at East Cambs’ for almost four years, I also understand the process of local government and I have the network of contacts - MPs, business people, investors - at my fingertips to unlock funding and achieve projects that really matter to people’s everyday lives.

“I know other local councils share this dissatisfaction with projects they have embarked upon. I truly believe devolution - giving more power to a local team who absolutely understand the pressing needs of a fast-growing and dynamic area - will speed up such vital projects.

“And I believe a motivated, passionate and dedicated person like myself will be able to lead a team that will change the way infrastructure is delivered forever.”

If successful, Cllr Palmer says he intends to “concentrate fully” on the role of mayor.

“If I am successful in my bid I will relinquish my leadership role at East Cambs’ and my county council position to represent Cambridgeshire and Peterborough robustly, promoting business and our county in Westminster and beyond.

“We already know Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are wonderful places to live and work but as Mayor I would build on that success, improve infrastructure and provide high quality housing for all.”

South Cambs MP Heidi Allen has also announced a bid to become mayor: local Tories have given candidates until December 16 to offer themselves for selection.