Palmer, Allen and Count enter the race to win Tory nomination for Cambridgeshire’s £70,000 a year mayor - but are there hidden surprises?

The prolific Thomas Hardy immortalised the role of Mayor - how will Cambridgeshire's first mayoralty

The prolific Thomas Hardy immortalised the role of Mayor - how will Cambridgeshire's first mayoralty elected be viewed by historians? - Credit: Archant

Tories in Cambridgeshire will meet on January 21 in Whittlesey to decide their preferred candidate to contest the 2017 election for the county’s firstly directly elected £70,000 a year mayor.

County council leader Steve Count trawled the BBC radio and TV studios this week to become the latest Conservative politician hopeful of winning his party’s backing.

East Cambs Council leader James Palmer and South Cambs MP Heidi Allen have also announced their decision to contest the nomination but many others are expected.

Those hoping to stand had until 5pm on December 16 to let Tory Central Office know of their intention- and once ‘approved’ will go before a selection panel on January 10.

Regional Tory Party executives will join NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay in whittling the list down to six.

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Next stage for the hopefuls will be on January 14 when a ‘selection council’ will interview all six applicants, from which they have been told to select a minimum of two and maximum of three to go to a general meeting of all Cambridgeshire members.

That vote will be taken a week later at Sir Harry Smith Community College, Whittlesey and will be a ticket only event.

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Party officials have remained tight-lipped about possible contenders for the role and only a handful knows the names of those who put their names forward.

“In the West Midlands we got a surprise with Andy Street, the MD of John Lewis, quitting his job to stand as mayor,” one senior official told me.

“Maybe there are high profile business leaders wanting to do the same in Cambridgeshire – who knows?”

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