ELECTION SPECIAL: Text of new mayor James Palmer’s acceptance speech and round up of Cambridgeshire County Council results

PUBLISHED: 20:30 05 May 2017 | UPDATED: 20:35 05 May 2017

James Palmer speaks for the first time as Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Also pictured is unsuccessful candidates Julie Howell (Green) and Rod Cantrill (Lib Dem). PHOTO: Seb Pearce

James Palmer speaks for the first time as Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Also pictured is unsuccessful candidates Julie Howell (Green) and Rod Cantrill (Lib Dem). PHOTO: Seb Pearce

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Newly elected mayor of Cambridgeshire James Palmer described tonight how the county has “the building blocks of success”.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayoral candidates: Paul Bullen (UKIP), Rod Cantrill (Lib Dem), Peter Dawe (Independent), Stephen Goldspink (English Democrats), Julie Howell (Green), James Palmer (Conservatives) and Kevin Price (Labour). The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayoral candidates: Paul Bullen (UKIP), Rod Cantrill (Lib Dem), Peter Dawe (Independent), Stephen Goldspink (English Democrats), Julie Howell (Green), James Palmer (Conservatives) and Kevin Price (Labour).

He was speaking shortly after winning the keenly contested battle for the role that will add a fourth tier of local government to Cambridgeshire but release millions of extra Government resources to be spent locally.

Cllr Palmer – whose salary he says has yet to be decided but will be between £65,000 a year and £80,000 a year- will chair a new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Cllr Palmer built his reputation in East Cambs where he rose to become council leader and has been hot favourite for the mayoralty throughout the campaign.

In his acceptance speech at Peers Sports Hall in Soham tonight he said;

“Politics is a team game and I wouldn’t be here without the incredible support of the team that has backed me from day one.

“I would like to thank each and every one of them for their hard work especially, Debbie Clark my agent and Ben Shelton, who has organised my diary for the last two months and of course the backing of my family to go on this incredible trip and follow this desire to be Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and I thank you all for your incredible support.

“It’s almost strange to stand here in this building I know so well, just yards from where I was educated.

“As a child at secondary school in the early 1980s I found myself in the middle of a fight between the unions and the then-Conservative government.

“The unions felt it was entirely fair to ruin the education of children of those who were in secondary school at the time by taking many, many days of strikes.

“Fairness is something I believe in very strong and as Mayor I aim to make this area a fairer county, with opportunities for all, making sure that everybody gets a chance of apprenticeship schemes and having a skilled job.

“What we have here in Cambridgeshire is almost unique. We have the building blocks of success; we just need someone to put them together.

“Improving the infrastructure in Cambridge, linking the great city of Peterborough to Cambridge and bringing Fenland to the fold are all absolutely vital if we are to be a success.

“Government is relying on Cambridgeshire post-Brexit and I will work with the Prime Minister to build a strong and stable relationship and a strong and stable Cambridgeshire, where the leadership of the country and the leadership of the county will work together for the area.

“I am immensely proud to be the first Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and I will do everything I can to make sure that everybody is included in the future of this county.”

First round resultsJames Palmer (Conservative): 76,064

• Rod Cantrill (Liberal Democrats): 47,026

• Kevin Price (Labour): 37,297

• Paul Bullen (UKIP): 15,931

• Julie Howell (Green): 12,628

• Peter Dawe (Independent): 9,176

• Stephen Goldspink (English Democrats): 2,256

Second round results

• James Palmer (Conservative): 12,762

• Rod Cantrill (Liberal Democrats): 20,179

Cllr Palmer was ahead on the first vote with 76,064 votes with Rod Cantrill, the Lib Dem candidate and second favourite, joining him in the ‘vote off’.

Mr Cantrill polled 47,026 in the first round – his votes coming substantially from Cambridge city and the south of the count.

Across Cambridgeshire voters also went to the polls yesterday to elect their county councillors.

By the day’s end the Conservatives have 36 seats at Shire Hall, with Lib Dems on 15, Labour with three and three independents.

Whilst the story of the day was the obliteration of UKIP (they previously held 12 seats) Cllr Steve Count, the Tory leader, is satisfyingly in the driving seat – and he topped the poll in his own division, March North & Waldersey, by a comfortable amount.

“We will do our absolute best to represent the people from across the whole county,” he said.

He added: The constraints will continue over the next four years so balancing the books is important while maintaining efficiency in delivering the services.”

Cllr Count is expected to retain the leadership (his allowances for both being a councillor and council leader are around £19,000 a year) but he had to wait and watch from a distance – as the job he aspired to go elsewhere.

Cllr Count was one of three shortlisted by the Tories to become their candidate for mayor but lost out to Cllr Palmer when party members from across Cambridgeshire met in Whittlesey to listen to and then decide their preferred candidate.

Tories will face the difficult choice of retaining a committee system or attempting to revert back to a cabinet style of governance when they officially take back control of Cambridgeshire County Council.

It won’t be plain sailing, however, if they wish to revert back to a cabinet – it could take between a year to 18 months to make the constitutional changes although in the meantime they will have majorities on all the main committees.

For chief executive Gillian Beasley dealing with the fall out from both the county and mayoralty elections has been put on hold – at least for today.

She was on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire today explaining where she has spent the morning – at a Peterborough school, chatting to pupils and staff and discovering life at the sharp end.

Meanwhile across the county UKIP has been wiped from the electoral map.

UKIP county council leader Paul Bullen has lost his seat – and by a massive margin.

In Fenland the Tories notched up impressive wins with Steve Tierney, who lost his seat to UKIP four years ago, back with a massive majority.

He polled 1,076 on a 26.9 per cent tour, defeating his nearest rival, UKIP’s Paul Clapp, who polled 211.

Cllr Tierney described it as “the nicest campaign I have been involved with”.

In March the prospects of a surprise – with independent candidate Rob Skoulding standing against John Gowing – diminished when the Tory contender beat the town and district councillor by 59 votes.

Mr Bullen polled 273 votes in the Warboys and Stukeleys – way behind the winning Tory candidate Terry Rogers who polled 1,142 votes.

There was a surprise in Huntingdon though where Sir Peter Brown, the former Conservative councillor, suffered a surprise defeat by independent Tom Sanderson.

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