Second candidate announces bid to be Conservative choice for East Midlands mayor - rivalling Mansfield MP

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The leader of Derbyshire Council has joined the leader of Nottinghamshire Council in bidding to become the Conservative choice for East Midlands mayor.

Coun Barry Lewis, Derbyshire Council leader, has confirmed he has put himself forward for selection as the Conservative candidate for East Midlands Mayor.

This mayoral role will oversee the East Midlands devolution area, announced last year by the Government, which consists of Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, and Nottinghamshire.

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The directly-elected mayor will have powers over housing, transport and skills – with the Government promising a £1.14bn investment fund over 30 years.

Coun Barry Lewis is hoping to become the first East Midlands Mayor. (Photo by: Brian Eyre/ Barry Lewis is hoping to become the first East Midlands Mayor. (Photo by: Brian Eyre/
Coun Barry Lewis is hoping to become the first East Midlands Mayor. (Photo by: Brian Eyre/

Coun Lewis has been the leader of DCC since 2017, having first become involved in local politics some 17 years ago.

He said: “Devolution must deliver benefits to all our residents, it must recognise the importance and challenges facing our two cities but equally recognise that our many rural villages and rural market towns face challenges.

“For too long our region has not seen the kind of investment that our other English regions have, and we risk falling further behind unless we can turn the dial in our favour. By using this county devolution deal we can do that.”

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Coun Lewis is the second person to throw their hat in the ring for the Conservative nomination after Coun Ben Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader and Mansfield MP.

Discussing what he would focus on if elected, Coun Lewis stressed he wanted to boost the region’s manufacturing prowess and hoped to ensure the area’s world-leading skills in aviation, rail and motor manufacturing can pivot to provide solutions for the future and help build a green economy.

He also highlighted the importance of integrated transport, but confirmed he would not support proposals such as the ultra-low emission zones introduced in London.

He had previously been opposed to the idea of an elected mayor for the East Midlands and said the role needs a candidate without “any baggage”, while Coun Bradley has been a long-time supporter of the idea and one of the key people driving the idea forward.

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Coun Lewis said: “The role of East Midlands Mayor will be a big job. It needs someone that doesn’t have baggage or competing priorities, other than putting our region front and centre.

“Whatever people may feel about having a mayor, and in some ways, I share those reservations, but the fact is this region won’t get the full benefit of devolution without one.

“Government is clear on this and the legislation to deliver it will likely be completed well before a general election, thus baking in the arrangements for this region and requiring a Mayoral election by 2024.

“I hope I can get the opportunity to stand for mayor for the new East Midlands Combined Authority and represent the values of my party and the ambitions and hopes of our region’s residents.”

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Nottinghamshire campaigner asks Government for change after spate of objections ...

Five candidates have already put themselves up for the Labour nomination:

Suqie Banwait, Derbyshire Council candidate for Greater Heanor and Derbyshire Dales Council candidate for Matlock East & Tansley in the 2021 and 2023 elections;

John Hess, Former political editor of BBC East Midlands Today for 20 years;

Paddy Tipping, Former Sherwood MP from 1992-2010 and Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioner from 2012-21;

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Claire Ward, Former Watford MP from 1997-2010 and current chairman of the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust since 2021;

Coun Adele Williams, Nottingham Council member for Sherwood ward since 2017 and former deputy leader until May 2023.