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Two leaders in running to become Cambs’ elected mayor

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Heidi Allen, the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, has not made it on to the final shortlist of Tory candidates to become the first elected mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Cambridgeshire CC’s leader Steve Count, who was influential in securing the region’s devolution deal, will be up against East Cambridgeshire DC’s leader James Palmer. Huntingdonshire DC’s executive member for growth Roger Harrison is the other candidate.

Ms Allen courted controversy at the time of announcing her candidacy in December when she proposed to combine the mayoral role with her current position in parliament.

The shortlist was decided last weekend and Conservative party members will be asked to select their preferred candidate this Saturday.

Five out of the seven councils in the region are Conservative-controlled meaning the Tory candidate will be the frontrunner to become mayor on 4 May.

Labour’s candidate is due to be picked from Kevin Price, Cambridge City Council’s deputy leader, and Fiona Onasanya, a Cambridgeshire county councillor and deputy group leader, on 3 February.

Whoever wins the mayoral election on 4 May will serve a four-year term.

As mayor they will oversee the implementation of the region’s devolution deal which includes an investment fund worth up to £600m over 30 years and more control over skills and apprenticeship budgets.

One of the unique elements of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s devolution deal is a £70m pot of funding which has been ringfenced for use to build about 500 new council homes in Cambridge city over five years.

About £10m has been set aside to replace any of the homes which are subsequently sold through the right-to-buy scheme. A further £100m for affordable housing to be built across the region over five years is also included in the deal. The combined authority will be able to mix the type of tenures including affordable rented and low cost home ownership.

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