MAYORAL ELECTION: English Democrat candidate puts focus on smaller projects

Stephen Goldspink

Stephen Goldspink - Credit: Archant

On May 4, people across the county will vote for the first mayor of the combined authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. But who will get your vote?

With a term of just four years, it’s important the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough makes a “quick impression”.

That’s according to former Peterborough city councillor and English Democrat candidate for the role, Stephen Goldspink, who is hoping to get to work on his plans for the county on May 4, particularly the issue of trans-port and infrastructure.

“I saw it [the election] as an opportunity to get things done,” he told The Hunts Post.

“One of the frustrations about Cambridgeshire which I’ve learned because I moved from Peterborough to Fenland, is that it’s not very joined up.

During one of my county council elections, I looked around me to see all the things that frustrated me on a daily basis.

“My passion is transport and I would like to see a lot of small pots of money spent in lots of places rather than spending large amounts of money on big schemes, which, if you look back at the history in our county, always cost a lot of money, are always late and always run over budget,” he added.

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“What I would rather do is look for some of the things that irritate residents on a daily basis – traffic lights out of phase, junctions that aren’t designed correctly, priorities at junctions that aren’t right, and trains that don’t make sense.”

Mr Goldspink, who joined the English Democrats after 10 years as a councillor with the Conservative Party, says the same rule can also be applied to larger networks in the county.

“The A14 is a key trunk road that runs through our county and also the A10 needs action, but I would like to see that be incremental rather than a massive dig up of carriageways and adding an extra two carriageways all the way along.

“I would say let’s do things that don’t cost too much but make a big amount of relief, rather than go for a massive scheme.”

The new mayor will be responsible for £600 million when they are elected – £20 million a year for 30 years – as well as a £170 million grant for affordable housing.

But before new homes are built, Mr Goldspink hopes more can be done with houses currently out of use.

“If I was mayor, I would want to see councils tell me how they were going to bring back into use all of the empty properties that exist within their area. There are houses that have been empty for ages, and in Cambridge I understand the council has an empty property officer who goes around looking to persuade owners and landlords looking to bring properties back into use.

“Not only have we got to build more properties, we’ve got to make better use of the properties that we’ve got and I want to make that a qualifying factor for distributing money that councils are actually doing something about.

“There are lots of little examples of properties that are boarded up that councils need to take an interest in because they could provide, I reckon, probably a five per cent increase in the housing stock, immediately.”

Mr Goldspink is also keen to encourage apprenticeship schemes in the county, and supports the idea of building a university in Peterborough.

“I’m very keen on apprenticeships because I think they offer an opportunity to give people the experience to build a trade and at the same time earning money and being educated,” he said.

“But then on the University of Peterborough, clearly there are a lot of universities around the country, some with better reputations than others, but at the moment most students in Peterborough have to leave the city to pursue their university education and that might not be ideal.”

Mr Goldspink entered local politics in 2000, and since then has stood for seats

on Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, and, in 2012, for the post of police and crime commissioner.

Despite his council background though, Mr Goldspink says he has a reputation for getting things done.

He said: “For the last generation this county has been run by the major parties and nothing has changed, so why would putting someone from a major party over the top of the other people in the major parties make any difference? I can’t see that it would.

“If you put in an independent candidate or someone from a smaller party on the basis they have good ideas and an enthusiasm to work, then I think maybe there is a chance for change. Yes, I am from a councillor background, but I work in the private sector and I think I haven’t lost my cutting edge.”