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Summary

  1. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral candidates gather for debate
  2. First devolved mayor will have £800m budget to spend over five years
  3. Lively discussion focused on transport, housing, the economy and skills
  4. Mayoral elections take place on 4 May
  5. Debate will be broadcast tonight on BBC1 at 22:45
  6. Scroll down for full summary of the debate here

Live Reporting

By Alex Pope

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's it from the mayoral debate

Orla Moore

BBC Local Live

The question of devolution in this region has been rumbling on for months - but now it's finally starting to come full circle.

The new combined authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough was only formally created this year -and the mayor in charge will be in control of a £800m budget over five years.

Last night's debate at the Kingsgate Conference Centre was a chance for all seven candidates to have their say ahead of the election. 

But which candidate gets your vote on 4 May?

Scroll down through the coverage here to see if you felt the burning local issues were answered before making your choice on the ballot paper.

The debate - hosted by BBC Look East's Janine Machin - will be broadcast tonight, on BBC1 - at 22:45.

janine machin
BBC

Mayoral election analysis: Are voters aware of what's on the horizon?

Hannah Olsson

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire political reporter

So the new mayor will certainly have power, but do people care? There’s no doubt that interest has been creeping up as the election gets closer, but with any new role it’s always hard to get the message out that the election is happening, and I meet people every day who still have no idea.   

The mayoral election is being held on the same day as the election for Cambridgeshire County Council, which usually gets a turnout of around a third, so we can expect around the same for the mayoral election. 

But it’ll be interesting to see what happens in Peterborough - it’s a unitary authority so doesn’t have any elections this time round. The candidates will have to work even harder there to get people to come out and vote for them.

Mayoral debate analysis: Main parties performed well

Mousumi Bakshi

BBC East political reporter

As expected perhaps, the two main parties performed well, but it was Rod Cantrill, with his insistence that homes in Peterborough were just as unaffordable as those in Cambridge, who won a fraction more applause from the audience.

His Lib Dem campaign is being run by the same team that won the Richmond by-election last year, and it shows.

Whether that translates to more votes here remains to be seen. In a county that typically votes Tory, James Palmer will be feeling confident.

It all comes down to money

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Although the debate seemed to go down well with the audience, some questioned the role the mayor would have and if it would actually make any difference. 

One audience member said: "What I am hearing here is absolute rubbish because you as mayors are not going to have the money to do anything.

"(The) government has massively cut money to local government, and Peterborough needs more money."

Mayoral audience
BBC

The general consensus from the panel seemed to be that they won't have enough money, but they will try and ask for more.   

'Get young people building the new homes'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

One of the most repeated words in this debate has been "apprenticeship". 

It seems like all the candidates think training young people in certain skills will help unlock Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's true potential. 

Rod Cantrill, for the Liberal Democrats, says if he's elected he will "put jobs back into Fenland".

He thinks this will happen by making sure young people can build the new homes that we will need to live in over the coming years. 

He's also promised to reinstate funding to pay for the bus fares of 16-18-year-olds so they can travel to colleges to undertake their further education. 

Rod Cantrill
BBC

Mayoral election analysis: The bigger picture

Hannah Olsson

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire political reporter

Party campaigners have told me that, on the doorstep at least, the election of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s first mayor has been somewhat overshadowed by the snap general election. 

But it’s worth remembering that in terms of our everyday lives, our new mayor has the potential to make a big difference to people living in Cambridgeshire. 

Transport and housing are two of the biggest issues for Cambridgeshire. It’s no coincidence that they are the areas that the new mayor will have control over, and are the two biggest battlegrounds for the election.

There is £170m to spend on affordable housing, but what this will look like, where this will go and who will be able to live there, is something the candidates have been debating over the last couple of weeks.

Similarly, there are many transport projects being talked about as part of the devolution deal, from the reopening of the Wisbech rail link to upgrading the A47. 

But these are costly projects - and even with £20m available for the next 30 years, it’ll be up the mayor to decide which projects should be prioritised, and again the candidates differ in their ideas. 

Mayoral election: What the papers say

Orla Moore

BBC Local Live

The front page of today's Ely Standard also looks at the candidates vying to become the first mayor for the new combined authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough: 

View more on twitter

Mayoral debate: #cpmayor audience reaction on Twitter

Orla Moore

BBC Local Live

Here's a flavour of your reaction to the debate between the mayoral candidates last night.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Train on the job not in the classroom

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Helping the next generation get into work lies in training. 

This is the view of Peter Dawe, the independent candidate who says training has to shift "from education establishments to employers and the employed".

You get skills "by doing the job and doing it next to someone who knows how to do it", he says. 

Mayoral debate
BBC

Stephen Goldspink, for the English Democrats, also believes apprenticeships are the answer as "there is a mix of people out there".

He doesn't think everyone is made to go to university so alternative training needs to be in place. 

'More skilled trades people needed'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

On the subject of skills, Julie Howell, representing the Green party, said she would like to get rid of these "awful unpaid internships".

"That's something I would knock on the head," she said.

She said this is because too many people are getting to 30 and not properly working. She said she wanted to help them "get into something meaningful".

Paul Bullen, for UKIP, said more young people needed to learn technical skills.

"We need skills trade people, then businesses will come here," he said.

Mayoral debate
BBC

Could apprenticeships be the answer?

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

So far we've covered housing and transport, next up is the subject of skills. 

This is because the mayor's job will be to also look at investment in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and supporting job growth. 

So how do we get there? 

James Palmer, for the Conservatives, says the answer lies in apprenticeships and he wants to work with local schools to reward young people to go down that career path. 

Mayoral debate
BBC

He's not the only one who thinks this, Kevin Price representing Labour believes the role of apprenticeships will be "vital" as that's how he got into the workplace. 

He said training young people so they can build houses, railways and key work skills would help support the county's growth.

Mayoral elections 2017: The area the mayor will cover

Orla Moore

BBC Local Live

If where you live is overseen by any of these seven councils - you get to vote on 4 May for the new mayor.

  • Cambridge City Council 
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • East Cambridge District Council 
  • Fenland District Council 
  • Huntingdonshire District Council 
  • Peterborough City Council
  • South Cambridgeshire District Council  

The new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority is one of six regions in England to choose a mayor: 

map of authorities
BBC

Mayoral debate analysis: A north-south divide on the roads issue

Mousumi Bakshi

BBC East political reporter

For a county with its own north-south divide between Peterborough and Cambridge, it was inevitable that inequalities over transport would lead to division among the candidates.

They all agreed that if elected they would spread the wealth of Cambridge to address the very different needs of Peterborough and Fenland. But how?

UKIP's Paul Bullen seemed committed to upgrading the A47, insisting that a rural county "needs cars", while the Greens backed investment for public transport. It was left to the Conservative's James Palmer to insist on both.

And it was the Conservative candidate who also won murmurings of support from the audience when he pledged to reward schools for putting children through apprenticeships.

Skills as well as education, he argued, would help create a workforce for the 21st Century.

'It's all about buses'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

According to Kevin Price, the Labour candidate, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's transport issues could be partially solved with buses. 

He says the answer is bringing in a "bus franchise". 

If needs be, he says go to the government and demand more money. But first and foremost he wants to "speak for bus users and provide a decent bus system for them",

Mayoral debate panel
BBC

'End the love affair with the car'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

On transport, Julie Howell, from the Green Party, said: "I want to break up this love affair with the car."

She says dualling roads is not the answer and we need to start "having an affair with public transport, buses and trains".

She added that she is "all about trains", so is for reopening the March to Wisbech railway line. 

Debate panel
BBC

Earlier in the debate Stephen Goldspink from the English Democrats said councils needed to "make the most of what they have got", and he believes this is the same with transport. 

He said "residents know the problems" so they need to be listened to.

He believes all sorts of things can be sorted out without spending vast amounts of money, and rerouting buses slightly would work, also making sure trains stop where they need to, not just where they do at the moment.

'Make transport improvements for next 40 years not four years'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Carrying on the subject of transport, the panel were asked how they would improve rail and road links across the whole of the county. 

Rod Cantrill, for the Liberal Democrats, said he would bring in an "integrated strategic transport plan". 

He says the money currently on offer in the mayoral budget to deal with transport is "not enough" and he would ask for more.

He said they needed to plan for the next 40 years and not the next four. 

Mayoral debate
BBC

UKIP candidate Paul Bullen said as mayor he would look at the transport budget and "look at what we have and put it right".

He said the most important thing was to "get views of local people" and listen to them.

'Improve both road and rails'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

On the subject of improving rail or road links in the Fens, the Conservative candidate, James Palmer doesn't see it as an "either or" approach.

He believes it's "imperative" to expand the county's rails and connect other parts of the county which would hopefully bring much needed growth to areas like Whittlesey, March and Peterborough. 

He says he'll be "pushing for it" and money should be spent on rail and roads. 

Wisbech rail line
BBC

Host Janine Machin then asked the audience for a quick show of hands to see if they were for the reopening of the March to Wisbech railway, and more than half showed that they were. 

One audience member went as far as saying it was a "pie in the sky" idea, and the A47 and bus services in Wisbech needed to be improved.

Will rail or roads unlock Cambridgeshire growth?

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

So far we've covered the issue of housing, next it's time to turn the spotlight on to transport. 

Audience member Nick Dubbin, from campaign group Rail Future, wanted to know if reopening the now closed March to Wisbech rail line was the key to unlocking development in Fenland? 

Peter Dawe, the independent candidate, responded straight away with "no".

He believes that improving the A47 is the answer as "Wisbech needs business", and this will deliver it.

Close March to Wisbech rail line
BBC

Mayoral debate analysis: Affordable housing is a 'misnomer'

Mousumi Bakshi

BBC East political reporter

While the panel agreed that "affordable housing" was a misnomer in one of the most expensive places to live, their solutions to the issue varied widely.

Whether it was Peter Dawe's Fenland factory "churning out modular homes by the dozen" or Stephen Goldspink's pledge to "bring back empty homes", there were clearly different approaches to tackling the housing shortage.

"Just build more council houses!" shouts an exasperated audience member.

"I will," says Labour's Kevin Price. As Cambridge City Council's lead on housing, he'd be well placed to honour that pledge... 

Not a 'one size fits all' approach to sort out housing problems

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

So how do we solve the county's housing problems? 

Stephen Goldspink, from the English Democrats, said there were still many properties in the county that were not occupied and local authorities had the power to take them over and bring them into the housing stock.

He said councils had already failed to make the "most of what they have got" and he would change this. 

James Palmer, the Conservative candidate, said as the only leader on the panel he already had the housing solution, and that lies in homes built on community land trust, which is homes built in conjunction with the community.

James Palmer and Julie Howell
BBC

He said it's "not a one size fits all problem" but they needed to look at all options.

An audience member then responded that this would only work if there were "affordable rents", and Mr Palmer said that community land trusts do offer affordable rents. 

Let 'local people' have their say on housing

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

One of the main roles for the mayor will be to manage the budget to meet the county's housing needs.

With this in mind, audience member John Gibson asked if this could mean more new large developments built without due consideration.

Paul Bullen, the UKIP candidate, responded that he would make sure "local people" had their say and he would carry out a "consultation on that".

Houses
PA

Kevin Price, the Labour candidate, stated it's paramount that there is money in the mayoral pot to "build affordable housing" and when negotiations were being made to create the new post he "dug his heels in" to make sure £170m would be spent on affordable housing.

On the issue of homes being built without due consideration, Mr Price said that planning would still remain with the district authorities and it would be for them to determine where homes go. 

'Stabilise' the housing market by building more homes

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Peter Dawe, the independent candidate, said the housing shortage would be "stabilised" if more homes were built. 

He said this could only happen if you have "somewhere to put them", and he said the building of new homes in places like Northstowe, St Neots, The Hamptons and Waterbeach would help. 

He stated that bold solutions were needed and one idea he has is for modular homes to be built in a special "homes factory" in The Fens, that are then shipped to the areas where they are needed. 

He says this needs to happen as the skills aren't there to build them traditionally. 

How do we solve the 'huge problem' of affordable housing?

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

The debate turned to the issue of housing.

Audience member John Knowles wanted to know how the elected mayor would supply affordable rented homes for people already living in the county.

Julie Howell, from the Green party, responded that this was a "huge problem that was not being acknowledged".

She said there needed to be "a proper audit to know what people need and not just what they want".

House being built
PA

Rob Cantrill, the Liberal Democrat candidate, said the housing issue must be "addressed".

He said this could be achieved by bringing in a 50% ratio of affordable housing in key sites in the county. 

He also went one step further and suggested creating a "local living rent", which means charging households a third of their income and not the main market price.

'Please vote'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

In any debate the audience is paramount. Elizabeth Cook raised the issue on what difference the mayor would make. 

After hearing the responses, host Janine Machin asked her if she was going to vote.

She said: "I usually vote in all elections but on this occasion I'm not too sure what it does for Peterborough."

This resulted in Julie Howell, the Green Party candidate, shouting out "please vote".

Audience
BBC

'Change the system'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Although Paul Bullen is standing as the mayoral candidate for UKIP, on responding to the question raised by audience member Elizabeth Cook on what difference an elected mayor would make, he said that personally he wasn't for the role.

Host Janine Machin then challenged him on this by asking, "are you here to sabotage the system?" 

He responded with: "No I'm here to change the system."

He explained he would do this by removing either one or two tiers of government, as he feels three are too many.

He feels two are enough and getting rid of extra tiers would remove "extra expense". 

Mayoral debate
BBC

How do you manage the budget?

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

The next question was based on the £800m budget that the mayor will have to manage over five years.  

Rod Cantrill, the Liberal Democract candidate, said he wanted to be the "mayor for everyone" and that meant looking at politics "differently". 

He said that having a background in business meant be would be able to run things efficiently.

Mayoral debate
BBC

Stephen Goldspink, representing the English Democrats, said the new role would bring in "additional funding previously handed out by central government".

"It puts it in the hand of local politicians," he said.

He said Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative councillors who've run all of the district and major authorities in the county over the years have "failed to integrate them", so "change is the answer" to "bring people together".

Filmed in front of a live studio audience

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Last night's debate was filmed at Kingsgate Conference Centre in Peterborough.  

It was recorded in front of a live audience of about 90 members and chaired by BBC Look East's Janine Machin.

We will be bringing you highlights of the debate throughout the day and you will be able to see it all for yourself tonight, on BBC One at 22:45.

Mayoral debate
BBC

Mayoral debate analysis: A bold and gutsy opener - and the audience loved it

Mousumi Bakshi

BBC East political reporter

It's not a typical debate when at least two of the candidates in the running to become mayor describe the post as a "chronic waste of money", but that was the bold and gutsy opener thrown down by the Green Party's Julie Howell.

And the audience loved it.

It's a point of contention, however, because whoever IS elected mayor will control a multi-million pound budget, directly delivering new homes and transport schemes across the county.

And it was housing that led to some of the more lively exchanges in an otherwise even-tempered and cordial debate.

Mayoral election a 'chronic waste of public money'

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

The first big round of applause on the night went to Julie Howell, from the Green Party, when she stated she was against the introduction of the mayor. 

She said that it was a "chronic waste of public money". 

On the matter of fairness she stated that she had "never seen such a big divide".

"I've been here between people that seem to have it all and people that seem to have very little," she said.

She said building "communities" and places close to where people work was the answer and not creating "dormitory towns". 

Mayoral debate
BBC

The difference between Peterborough and Cambridgeshire

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

One of the main areas for concern in the debate was the big difference between Peterborough and the rest of Cambridgeshire. 

The first question was how the mayor will make sure there is consistency and fairness across the board. 

Peter Dawe, the Independent candidate, said Cambridgeshire and Peterborough were "very different" and the wealth needed to be "spread and shared out". He said he would do this by introducing a "fairness commission".

Audience in debate
BBC

James Palmer, the Conservative candidate, said he was "committed" to bringing wealth from Cambridge to the North of Cambridgeshire, and that meant "bringing fairness to Peterborough and the rest of the county."  

The mayoral election: What's it all about?

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

On 4 May six regions in England will hold elections for newly created combined authority mayors.

These new mayors' remits will cover multiple local authorities, in mostly urban areas.

Their main responsibility will be to decide their region's economic strategy, and many will have powers covering other areas such as transport and housing. However, their exact powers will vary according to the terms of the agreements each region has made with the government.

The new mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will have a budget of £800m over five years.

Mayoral candidates in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
BBC

Meet the candidates

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Three main subjects were covered in last night's Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral election debate - housing, transport and business.

The questions were put to the seven candidates, who are:

Paul Bullen, for UKIP, who's currently on Cambridgeshire County Council.   

Paul Bullen
BBC

Rod Cantrill, the Liberal Democrat candidate, and councillor on Cambridge City Council.   

Rod Cantrill
Cambridge City Council

This is Peter Dawe, who is an Independent candidate and lives in Ely.

Peter Dawe
BBC

Next up is Stephen Goldspink, for the English Democrats, who lives in the Fens.   

Stephen Goldspink
BBC

Julie Howell, the only woman on the panel, is from the Green Party. She lives in Peterborough. 

Julie Howell
BBC

James Palmer, who's the leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, is representing the Conservative party.

James Palmer
BBC

And Kevin Price, who is the deputy leader of Cambridge City Council, is representing Labour.

Kevin Price
BBC

Mayoral election takes centre stage

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Good morning and welcome back to the Local Live news feed for Cambridgeshire. 

Today our stream is going to look a little different, as we are dedicating much of our coverage to a debate that took place last night on the mayoral election which is taking place for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough on 4 May. 

For an hour the BBC presenter Janine Machin questioned the seven candidates on a whole host of areas, and we'll be reporting on what was said.

Mayoral debate
BBC

You can, of course, get in touch with us at any time via Twitter, using the #cpmayor hashtag, via email or Facebook.