East Cambs leader James Palmer ahead in race for Tory nomination to become party’s choice as candidate for £70,000 a year Cambs mayor
PUBLISHED: 11:18 17 January 2017
East Cambs Council leader James Palmer topped the poll as Conservative officials narrowed contenders for the party’s nomination to be their candidate for mayor down to three.
Party sources tell me Cllr Palmer took 14 votes among those officers and members called to a meeting in Cambourne last Saturday to hear from the six candidates who had it made it through to the final selection stages.
County council leader Steve Count came second with 12 votes and there was a tie for third place with Huntingdon councillor Roger Harrison finally easing out Councillor Marco Cereste for the third spot on the ballot paper.
South Cambs MP Heidi Allen – the only woman on the short list- picked up just two votes and was eliminated.
She had pledged not to draw the mayor’s £70,000 a year if elected but many of her Tory councillor colleagues across Cambridgeshire were unhappy about her ability to do remain as an MP and become mayor.
Now all eyes are on Whittlesey this Saturday when party members from across Cambridgeshire get the chance to meet, quiz and then vote for their preferred choice to represent them.
Cllr Palmer heads into the fight as the surprise favourite: not only has he gathered immense support within East Cambs but has picked up supporters in Fenland after a powerful speech to Tory councillors on the benefits of devolution.
Councillor Steve Tierney, chairman of Wisbech Conservatives, said that the speech by Cllr Palmer had changed his mind.
“I have found James’ arguments on Twitter to be persuasive in the past, but not quite persuasive enough,” he wrote on his blog last November.
“Today, he changed my mind, which – let me tell you – takes some doing. Cllr. Palmer is the person chosen by the new Combined Authority to be the spokesman on transport.
“He gave a simple talk full of passion and conviction and I just found it very convincing, which is, for me, what I’ve been hoping for all along; sincere, simple, conviction.”