Local Elections 2021: Cambs business owners call for local contracts

Media caption,
Businessman Pav Patel wants the next mayor to consider awarding more contracts locally

Elected mayors have the power to award significant contracts to aid the development of their areas. But smaller firms say they are sometimes overlooked, and argue it is important to keep contracts close to home. How do mayoral candidates for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough plan to use their experiences to support small businesses?

Peterborough's proud manufacturing history - and a flurry of recent developments - should be an inspiration and guide to the mayoral candidates, believes businessman Pav Patel.

Having been behind several companies, he thinks that granting contracts to local firms would be an effective way for the next mayor to get value for money.

"If I was in power I would open my eyes, look at the opportunities, and see how we can actually look after our local firms," he said.

"Look after that Peterborough pound. Give it to the locals so it's worth five times more."

In alphabetical order, the candidates for mayor set out their plans below.

Nik Johnson, Labour

Image source, Nik Johnson

"My business, and I'm proud of it, is healthcare, and working within the NHS - that's the biggest business in the country. When you work in the NHS you get used to tight budgets and getting value for money.

"You have to work with different professional groups, you have to work across organisations, be it social care or education. You're working with public services all the time and you need to get value for money.

"I would love there to be an absolute focus, when giving out contracts, on looking out and prioritising local organisations, local groups and local charities."

James Palmer, Conservatives

Image source, Terry Harris

"I have run businesses and understand what it's like. I do run the combined authority in a business-like way, working to get as many options for local companies and local opportunities for local people as possible.

"And the policies the combined authority is putting in place are absolutely around giving opportunity to business. We have worked very closely with Peterborough businesses in developing the new University of Peterborough which is a technical jobs-based university, which is a first in the UK.

"We will be using that to create further jobs and business opportunities in the future."

Aidan Van de Weyer, Liberal Democrats

Image source, Aidan Van de Weyer

"I have worked with several small businesses to help them grow and succeed in various roles and in different sectors: financial services, health care and publishing.

"I have also got experience running other organisations and charities and my role on the council.

"The role of mayor shouldn't be run like a business: it's not a business. You have got to manage the budget responsibly but it's the aims that are different. You're looking out for the whole of the residents, not just looking out for the profit, which is an important aspect of the ethos of public service we have got to remember in this role."

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Note: This lookup covers national elections in Scotland and Wales, the Hartlepool by-election, as well as council and mayoral elections in England and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections in England and Wales. There may be parish council elections or council by-elections where you are. Check your local council website for full details. Last updated: May 11, 2021, 12:35 GMT

A special programme with all three candidates - called A Mayor for Cambridge and Peterborough - will be broadcast at 14:20 BST on Sunday on BBC One in the East.

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