Tory county council leader Steve Count to join East Cambs Council leader James Palmer in bid to become £70,000 elected mayor of Cambridgeshire

Councillor Steve Count

Councillor Steve Count - Credit: Archant

County council leader Steve Count – who helped to steer through the devolution deal for Cambridgeshire – has put his name forward to become the £70,000 a year elected mayor.

Cllr James Palmer

Cllr James Palmer - Credit: Archant

He’s been approved on a panel of prospective candidates by Conservative Central Office that also includes East Cambs Council leader James Palmer.

Cllr Count also chairs the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Partnership and is now expected to join other candidates at a special hustings event in January.

It is thought an event similar to that which saw the nomination for police commissioner Jason Ablewhite secured will be held.

Cllr Count has led the county council since the departure of Martin Curtis in 2014.

South Cambs MP Heidi Allen.

South Cambs MP Heidi Allen. - Credit: Archant

He has been active in local politics for more than a decade although in 2011 his career looked to have suffered a setback when he lost his seat of just 18 months on Fenland District Council after local Tories voted to de-select him. It was a bitter blow.

But a month later he won a county council by-election for the seat left vacant following the death of John West – and was soon given a key Cabinet role at Shire Hall following the earlier appointment of Nick Clarke to the leadership. He knows more than most then the vagaries of political life; he embarked on an unsuccessful challenge to become Cambridgeshire’s first £70,000 a year commissioner of police.

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In his public biography, Cllr Count says he was born in London and moved to March as a youngster, where he went through the local education system, before moving away on to further education.

The biography is taken from the website of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership where he is a board member,

“After studying at degree level, Steve returned to settle in March in the early eighties.

“Steve has been a successful businessman since an early age with diverse businesses, such as a manufacturer, retailer and landlord (licensed). Alongside all of the above, Steve’s first property investment was in 1988. He now owns (with his wife June) a multitude of properties throughout the UK.

“Steve’s experience includes manufacturing with over 80 staff and a turnover of £11 million a year. He has dealt with blue chip companies as diverse as Miss Selfridge and Carrefour Europe.

“In late 2005, Steve ceased all full time commitments; by 2008 he was searching for a new challenge and took his first steps to becoming a councillor.

“Steve won a by-election for a district seat in October 2009. In 2011 there was another by-election, which he successfully fought for his county seat and subsequently stood down from the district.

“Within only four months of arriving at the county, his work ethic and performance gained him the offer of a position on the Cabinet with the resources and performance portfolio.

“In 2014, Steve became Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.

“Other past non-commercial positions include; Chair of the Isle College industrial liaison committee, founding member of the Greater Peterborough Training and Enterprise Council and subsequently one of their business liaison advisers, vice chairman of Fenland Business forum, Neale Wade Community College mentor and presently Governor of the College of West Anglia.”

(Cllr Count has been emailed and phoned for comment on his bid to become mayor. At the time of publication he has not returned our calls)