James Palmer praised for ‘Parliamentary selection type performance’ as he storms to early victory to win Tory support for Cambs mayor election
PUBLISHED: 16:54 21 January 2017 | UPDATED: 01:03 22 January 2017
Council leader James Palmer pulled off a remarkable first round victory today to win the Conservative nomination to contest the May election to become the first mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The East Cambs leader entered today’s selection conference at Whittlesey as favourite but the margin by which he won surprised even some of his most ardent supporters.
“270 votes cast - Palmer wins on first round by 70 votes,” one Conservative official confirmed tonight.
Another told me: “His opponents Steve Count and Roger Harrison were outclassed by a Parliamentary selection type performance.”
“Steve Count was destroyed by a question about whether he can be Cambs Boris.”
Some of those packed into Sir Harry Smith Community College also said picked up on Cllr Palmer’s firmness in stating he would quit as East Cambs Council leader and also not stand as a county council candidate.
One told me: “Palmer said if he was selected he would give up standing for CCC and stand down as leader of East Cambs. Count did not.”
Cllr Count remains leader of Cambridgeshire County Council and, ironically, is de facto ‘mayor’ until then as he chairs the shadow combined authority that will come into being officially in May after the county and mayor elections.
Cllr Palmer said tonight he wants to be “a mayor for everyone” after winning the Conservative Party nomination to contest the election for the £70,000 a year post to become the first elected mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
His victory was announced within the past few minutes from the stage of the Harry Smith Community College, Whittlesey.
It was a one member one vote finale for the candidates, Cllr Count being the first to address the delegates as to why he wanted to become mayor.
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson had signalled his support for Cllr Palmer ahead of today’s vote and a strong element of Fenland Tories also backed the East Cambs leader.
Cllr Palmer lives in Soham and has been Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council since 2013 and a councillor for ten years.
He formerly ran a dairy business and has a family background in farming.
A Tory Party spokesman said: “He is active in his local community as part of his church and also fundraises for charities in Soham.”
Cllr Palmer said: “I am delighted to be selected as the Conservative mayoral candidate for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and I am looking forward to the campaign ahead.
“If elected I will be a champion for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, working with relevant partners to help boost jobs, growth and productivity.
“I plan to visit voters, stakeholders, community groups and businesses in the coming months throughout the combined authority area to hear their views.
“I want to be a mayor for everyone in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough giving people a greater say about their communities and providing clear accountability.”