Outcry as former council leader - now UKIP supporter- describes candidates for £70,000 a year mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough as ‘a disappointing field of runners’

PUBLISHED: 12:02 16 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:02 16 February 2017

Twitter storm: Peter Dawe, independent candidate for mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. PHOTO: Steve Williams

Twitter storm: Peter Dawe, independent candidate for mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. PHOTO: Steve Williams

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Former county council leader Nick Clarke provoked an outcry today after calling declared candidates for the £70,000 post of Cambridgeshire mayor “a disappointing field of runners”.

Twitter Storm: Former county council leader Nick Clarke - now a member of UKIP- attacks quality of candidates for mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. PHOTO: Steve WilliamsTwitter Storm: Former county council leader Nick Clarke - now a member of UKIP- attacks quality of candidates for mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. PHOTO: Steve Williams

Mr Clarke, who lost his county council seat in 2013 before switching to UKIP and losing out in the police commissioner election, said the mayoralty candidates offered “a serious lack of experience and gravitas”.

He tweeted: “No Andrew Lansley, Vicky Ford, Jim Paice, Andrew Duff for mayor of Cambs.”

One of the candidates, independent Peter Dawe, took to Twitter to ‘take on’ Mr Clarke and brandished his CV with the comment: “If this is a lack of experience and credibility, I’d like to meet the person who is!!!!”.

Mr Dawe said he had seven years local government experience was an EEDA board member for four years, built a company from nothing to a multi national listed at $300m, and set up the Internet Watch Foundation. He had also founded and guided a social finance business that has raised £150 million capital “for social impact”.

Mr Clarke was having none of it, telling Mr Dawe that “getting insulted by a single voter who questions suitability for election is not demonstrating a very thick skin”.

He asked Mr Dawe: “Credibility demands trust, Does resigning from UKIP just so you can stand as mayor as an independent cut it?”

There was also an exchange of words over the March to Wisbech rail line when Mr Dawe said “I do not yet support the rail link, as alternative spending, eg A47 to Peterborough hasn’t been tested

Local comments I’ve heard are about the A47, not difficulty of getting onto to March”.

Mr Clarke told him: “Not supporting a rail link to Wisbech has probably just cost you a huge amount of votes in Wisbech”

“This link would not win out on the financial appraisal only, but would help hugely to overcome the feeling of isolation.”

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