Janine Machin hosts a debate in which an audience questions the prospective candidates for the new role of mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
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On May 4th, the first elected mayor for Cambridgeshire
and Peterborough will be chosen.
They will have wide ranging powers over transport and schools
and they will have a multi-million pound budget.
Hello, and welcome to the Kingsgate Conference
Centre in Peterborough.
Tonight, our audience gets to put their questions
to these mayoral candidates.
If you want to join in the conversation at home,
the hashtag to use is #cpmayor.
But the big question is what will be the biggest challenges facing
the winner as they take charge of the first combined
authority in the region?
Cambridge, a technology giant.
Napp Pharmaceuticals is at the centre of the country's
oldest science park.
5,000 people work here in computer companies and in health care.
So can devolution provide an opening to help this whole region prosper?
The city is internationally renowned and will dominate the landscape
of the new combined authority, which is unique.
This is the only devolution deal in the country which is not a city
only region, so connecting the surrounding
communities is crucial.
The real challenge is looking at how we can utilise the new money
and make sure it is used on the priority projects.
The gap between the highest and lowest earners here is greater
than in any other devolved area.
Bridging that gap will be the greatest challenge
for the new elected mayor.
Skills are the key.
We hear frequently from companies who simply cannot find
staff for key posts.
On the surface, this region looks very attractive.
Employment here is high.
78% of people are in work.
Life expectancy is high.
Productivity is high.
But house prices in Cambridge are sky-high.
A flat in Cambridge is more expensive than a whole
house in The Fens.
It is just 12 miles up the road but the economy
in Fenland is very different.
The average weekly wage there is ?456.
Here it is ?633.
I should be able to afford a flat of my own with
being on a decent salary.
You just can't.
So the big challenge for this new combined authority
with an elected mayor at its head, is to make sure the opportunities,
the development and the cash cascade right from the top to the bottom,
refreshing this entire region.
But who can we count on to deliver that devolution promise?
Well, it is one of these seven people.
Let's meet the candidates.
Here with me tonight, Independent Peter Dawe.
Stephen Goldspink for the English Democrats.
James Palmer for the Conservatives.
Paul Bullen for Ukip.
Julie Howell for the Green Party.
Kevin Price for Labour and Rod Cantrill the Lib Dems.
Ladies and gentlemen, our panel.
And so let's take our first question for the evening.
My question is, Peterborough and Cambridge have very
How are you going to make sure that the needs of this
area are met?
What are you going to do to make sure there is consistency
Consistency and fairness across the board.
Let's start than with Kevin Price.
Yes, you are quite right.
They are very different and the idea is what the
mayor needs to do is ensure the growth and the wealth that is
created in Cambridge is spread out and is shared out.
One of the things I will want to be doing is looking
at a fairness commission to ensure that everybody gets a really, really
good share of this wealth.
Housing, for instance, is going to be
a vital, vital part.
You heard on that film today the disparity in house prices
and there is a distinct lack of affordable housing for rent across
the whole area, particularly Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire
and spreading out.
It is that.
We really, really need to be ensuring
that the cake is sliced fairly.
James Palmer, let's come to you on this one.
You need a mayor who cares equally for Cambridge
Someone who cares about the two.
I live in the middle of the two of them.
I am committed to bringing wealth from Cambridge to
the north of Cambridgeshire and I will be committed
to bringing fairness to Peterborough
and the rest of the county.
This was your question.
Can I ask, are you from Peterborough?
I am inbetween Peterborough and Huntingdon.
What do you think they need is for that region
that you are missing out on?
I am just looking at some different area
and sometimes people make complaints and say,
we do not have enough services in our area.
If you look at some other area in Cambridge or Peterborough,
you cannot tell - there is a big difference in between these areas.
Julie Howell, you are nodding.
Let's come to you.
There has never been such a big divide as I have seen here
between people who have it all and people who seem
to have very little.
Firstly, I would like to say that in the Green
Party we are against the establishment of this mayor.
What a chronic waste of public money.
What is the obsession of having an election every time
there is something the Tories cannot cope with?
Let me just put that out there for you.
Let me just say, migrant workers, EU nationals and
refugees, what a wonderful contribution they make
Let's answer some of those questions with them.
We need their workforce.
We should embrace them as part of our community.
Let's get back to the question that was posed.
There are different needs in different places.
How do we change that?
It is all right saying we need to spread the wealth.
How do we do that?
We build communities where people want to live there and
have workplaces near where people are.
We need to stop building dormitory towns, which we seem to be doing
I live in one myself and it is horrid.
Build communities where people are near where they work.
Lovely houses where they feel safe and know their neighbours.
It is not about transport and housing as separate things.
It is about communities.
I want to move on for now and then we will
come back to this.
I want to take the next question.
Given how much county councils are having their funding cut,
which is affecting front line services, how will you make your
role and your budget worth it?
How do you make the budget worth it?
Rod Cantrill, let's start with you.
Firstly, I want to be the mayor for everyone.
I believe that we need to do politics differently.
I think local politicians have failed you over a number of years
and you see that in terms of some of the steps that the county
council have made.
I think, as mayor, what I want to do is I want to deliver
for the people of the region.
I think to do that one needs to do in terms of spending the money
on an efficient basis.
I have a background in business.
I know how to run things efficiently.
I want to use the social capital that the mayor has to hands,
so that you can ensure people have the right skills
in business to succeed.
So we can drive through the delivery of all social
and affordable housing.
Homes that are part of communities, not just bricks and mortar.
More importantly, to set out an integrated transport plan
for the whole region.
So that people feel collected and not isolated.
I believe that sustainable communities are based
on all of those things.
We should not be of them prioritised.
A round of applause for that.
Housing will be something that we return to.
Going back to the question about how you make your role
and your budget worth it.
Stephen Goldspink, let's continue.
I have seen local authority money cut on a regular basis since 2010.
I work closely with local authorities.
I have seen how that affects them.
The beauty of this role is that it brings in additional funding
that was previously handed out by central government and puts it
in the hands of local politicians.
I note Rod said that politicians had failed.
For the last generation we have had Liberal Democrats,
Labour and Conservatives running all of the districts and major
authorities in this county and they have failed to integrate.
How is putting another one about all of those
going to make any difference?
We need a change in the way that we work and we need to bring
people together through this mayorship and bring
the authorities working together.
Ladies and gentlemen, any points to raise on this?
I believe the questioner came from the village of Sawtry,
that has an hourly bus in the daytime only.
I believe I am right in saying you do not
have a bus service on Sundays, or an evening bus service.
I know that because I use the bus between Cambridge and Huntingdon.
Really what is needed is for this mayor to stand up to the likes
of Stagecoach and say we are democratically elected,
you run the service that we want.
I know it is going to be difficult because I know they threaten
to withdraw all services in the north east.
Somebody has to take them on.
You have got to be clear that the guys in charge,
the big shareholders, making millions out of it.
To run it as public monopoly, and economic theory says you run
more public services.
Your point has been heard.
Transport is a subject that we will come back to.
He raises a valid point.
One in five households do not have access to a car.
Against that backdrop, there have been major cuts
in terms of bus subsidies by the county council.
We are in a crisis, both in times in the ability for people to get
around on public transport and their sense of isolation.
Over 10,000 people feel isolated and that was
a survey done by Age UK.
One of the great roles that the mayor has is bus franchising.
We can change that in a material way as part as an integrated
strategic transport plan...
That delivers to the people of the region.
I must stop you there.
Transport is something we will get back to in more detail,
providing we have the time.
I want to go to the third question.
Why should I be bothered to vote for a mayor?
What difference will an elected mayor make for Peterborough people?
Paul Bullen, let's bring you in on this one.
The one thing that the mayor will have is the ears
of whoever is in government.
We have a general election coming up as well
so we do not know who that will be.
The mayor will have those ears and will
be able to represent.
I do not think that the directly elected mayor is needed.
I do not believe this devolution deal is the right one
It is a start towards a unitary authority.
I want a yes or no answer from you.
You do not believe in this but you are standing for mayor.
Much the same as Julie is.
Yes or no, are you here to sabotage the system?
No, I am here to change the system.
The priority I will have if I'm elected mayor is to get
rid of at least one, and if not two tiers
of local government.
At the moment we have three tiers.
In my opinion, too many.
We have added the combined authority and the mayoral office on
to that from the 4th of May.
I think we do not need five tiers.
I think two would be enough.
I would concentrate on getting rid of those
extra tiers of local government and the extra expense.
The local government has failed and several of the councillors
here are agreeing with that.
It needs to change.
My experience of change is that it is only done by someone from
Asking councillors to change how the behave when they have
always worked in council is incredibly difficult.
It needs someone from the outside to make
those changes and that is why I am standing.
If I as a can ask you, because you
posed this question.
Would you rather there was not an elected mayor?
Will you voting at all?
I usually vote in all elections.
On this occasion, I am not sure what it
does for Peterborough.
If you do not vote, you let the Tories in.
Unless she votes Conservative.
I would rather that than not voting.
Can I just come in?
If I could reply to your question, I think this is an
opportunity for the whole of the region.
We need somebody in charge who can take the reins of what we have
got, speak to government, work on behalf the people and connect the
county north to south and east to west and deliver for the people
and spread the wealth from the south
to the north.
That is what is in it for Peterborough and in it for you.
I hope you do vote and I hope you vote Conservative.
I ensure you with the right person in charge, the mayor
can be a real success, not just for one part of the county
but for the entire county.
I am so sorry, but we will not get through all of the
issues that I know people want to raise unless we do move on.
One of the key issues in this area is housing.
We have acknowledged that, particularly in Cambridge where the
average house price are some of the highest in the country.
There is a housing shortage.
135,000 new homes are needed in the Cambridgeshire
and Peterborough area.
That is over the next 20 years.
On average, that is over 6,500 a year.
Last year, fewer than 3500 were built and that
shortfall is growing.
It is frustrating knowing that you've spent so much money on rent.
I have spent tens of thousands of pounds on rent.
And knowing that some of that money could have been paying off
a mortage on your own place.
As well, not knowing how long you can stay somewhere.
The landlord could evict you with two months notice.
So not having that stability that you have when you own your own
home is frustrating as well.
Those are the two things you want to get
when you become a first-time buyer.
When it is so unaffordable, it is difficult, really.
Let's pick up on some of those points.
Our next question comes from John Knowles.
How will you supply urgently needed, affordable
rented homes with security of tenure for families and individuals already
living in Peterborough?
This is not about future demand.
This is about the people who are already here.
Julie, let's start with you.
We have a huge problem here that is not being
acknowledged and that is how our lives change as we get older and
have families and our families grow up and move out and we get older
and different housing needs.
This needs to be addressed here.
I worry when other candidates talk and we
are thinking about chucking new houses down and not thinking about
the problems we already have with people on waiting lists.
With respect, we have seen that there is
an issue here.
How do you solve it.
What is the solution?
We need to look carefully at what we have now
and how we can address it and talk to people about what their housing
As a parish councillor, I am contacted by people who are in
housing and it is unsuitable for them.
We need a proper audit to know what people need and what not they
It is not just about the roof over your head, it is about feeling
safe and secure.
There are so many disabled people stuck in houses as
if they are prisons and they have done nothing wrong.
We are not meeting their needs.
We do know this area has some of the best secure
tenancies in the country.
A lifetime or minimum of five years.
We face a housing crisis.
I do not think my children or their friends will be
able to afford a house anywhere in the Cambridgeshire area.
I am a trustee of a homeless charity.
I see what it is like for people who do
not have a home.
One of the mayor's top priorities is to address that issue.
I believe that in Peterborough there is amazing
growth that is taking place.
We need to address that issue by looking at
the level of affordable housing provided.
I am keen to support a 50% ratio of affordable housing on key
I am keen to explore what is known as the local living rent.
That is something where, instead of charging
the market rate minus the
discount, you actually charge one third of someone's income.
That is what Shelter, the UK charity, says
the amount of money anybody should pay for their rent.
Even in Peterborough, we talk about Cambridge,
but in Peterborough the
average house price is 8.8 times the average income.
We need to address that.
It is a fundamental issue for the whole region.
If I can, very quickly.
You are clapping.
Tell us why?
Mainly, throughout the whole distribution
of Cambridgeshire, there
is slow growth in housing.
In Peterborough there is a amazing development.
There are plans to build more houses as well.
The main issue, as many candidates have
addressed within their manifestos, is that housing is a major
issue within this region.
My other discontent with the combined authority is that
there is not enough money that is coming into the region.
The ?600 million that we will been getting
for 30 years, only 30 million of that would be per year.
So you are worried that there is not enough money to
tackle this issue?
It is not just this issue but it is others.
Like, if you need to build the dual carriageway, the cost would be
?15 million per mile.
There is not enough money and the candidates
need to address that
because we need to get more money for the area.
I want to just stick with housing, if I may.
Peter, let's come to you on this issue.
The whole thing about housing is we need more houses.
If you've got enough supply of houses, the prices stabilise,
the rents stabilise.
To do that, you need two things.
One is somewhere to put them and, over the last 20 years,
I've been promoting the building of new towns.
It is now starting to happen in Northstowe, Waterbeach,
Saint Neots and the Hamptons.
The other thing you need is them being built.
And we don't have the skills and ability to build the number
of homes we need by traditional means, which is why I've been
working with Consortium to start a homes factory,
a modular homes factory in North Fenland, where they want the jobs.
Where we ship 20 homes a day out across Cambridgeshire so that we can
actually really make a massive impact on the supply of housing
and, when there's enough supply, all the other problems
of housing disappear.
Peter, I must ask you to leave it there because I want to move
on to our next question which follows very nicely from that.
It comes tonight from John Gibson.
In the letter outlining the proposal to Greg Clark,
the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,
he states that freedoms on planning,
development and housing will allow us to deliver higher growth
and speed up delivery of new housing.
Could that, in fact, lead to new, large developments
being granted planning status without due consideration?
Let's put this point to Paul.
I think you're quite right.
I think the current policy of the Government is basically
a developer's charter.
It takes out the wishes of the local population.
I firmly believe that the local people should have a say
on what happens in their town city and their street.
If I'm elected mayor, I will do more consultation on that.
Talking about housing generally, I would also prioritise any housing
under my control to be social housing, and prioritise that housing
for local people who need it now.
Because you are quite right, our children and our children's
children just cannot afford somewhere to live as
it is at the moment.
That is why there is in this devolution deal ?170 million
for building affordable housing.
It's part of a deal...
Leading Cambridge City Council, I also hold
the housing portfolio there.
In the negotiations for setting up the combined authority,
we dug our heels in.
I dug my heels in and insisted that there needed to be money
for affordable housing.
There is ?170 million for affordable housing.
This will be genuinely affordable housing.
There is some ring-fenced for Cambridge but, outside
Cambridge, built through housing associations which will be built
for rent, housing allowance rates.
So that, as everyone has said around here,
our children will have somewhere that they can afford to live.
Having the money is one thing to build them,
but the question, just getting back to it, was if you have more freedom
about where it goes, will you ignore the
views of the public?
Well, we don't ignore them.
Planning will still be with the district authorities.
The Mayor is not going to take over and tell all the local authorities
how they will do their planning because it is for them to determine.
I do want all of the panel to be able to have something to say
on housing while we are here.
So, Stephen, if I can come to you.
One of the things I think local authorities in this area have failed
on is actually making the most of the housing stock
that already exists.
If you walk around your town or city, you will see a lot
of properties that are not occupied.
In fact, there are 600,000 of those properties in England which local
authorities to have the power to take over and bring
into the housing stock.
Imagine what a difference that could make it authorities
actually did that.
So I am in favour of bringing in additional funding
and using what we have already got too leverage more money in,
but I also believe that the local authorities in Cambridgeshire have
failed to make the most of what they have got.
As mayor, I will be trying to make sure that they do that.
James, I just want to come to you.
As a local authority leader, and I am the only leader
on the panel, you would expect me to have a solution,
and we have a solution in East Cambridgeshire that
I will spread throughout the whole of the county
and into Peterborough as well.
It is community land trusts for housing, it can work anywhere.
It is housing that is built in coalition and in conjunction
with the local community, typically built outside the planning area,
and we use the uplift in the value of the land to provide
new housing, affordable housing for people who live
and work in the local area.
It's working now, look it up on the Internet,
it's in Streatham and Wilburton community land trust.
I will bring this working model into the whole of the county
and spread it throughout the whole of Cambridge and Peterborough.
I will say, this is not a one size fits all problem.
We have to use as many different options.
So we have to use modular housing, yes, community land trusts, yes,
social housing we already have, and yes market housing.
We need to create housing for the entire community.
We obviously have some hands raised here.
Sir, if I could bring you in.
Your question, your point?
All of what you say is meaningless if we don't have proper
regulation of landlords and reasonable, affordable rents.
If I can come back on that?
My community land trusts scheme in East Cambridgeshire,
the rents are affordable, they are currently at 70%
of the market rate.
The trusts are affiliated, and the trusts are
they housing provider.
Mr Palmer, if I can...
They are regulated.
We have two gentlemen here who are both saying the same thing.
If I can just...
If I can come back to the gentleman's point,
which is in terms of planning freedoms.
The problem with amenity land trusts, I think
they play a small role, but they actually step
outside the local plan.
What that means is exactly the point that the gentleman raised.
Basically, the local plan doesn't have any regulation in relation
to community land trusts.
The other point I would make about them, in one of the schemes
that James Palmer references, 54 homes are being built.
Community land trusts will not address the housing
crisis that we have in this region.
I must leave it there.
Just because we have more points to raise,
and obviously I want as many members of the audience to have
their say as possible.
70% of the market rate in Cambridge, that is not affordable, is it?
70% of the market rate in this particular scheme,
the land is worth more, then the market rate will fall down.
It is affordable housing.
It is affordable for people in the village.
It is a working scheme, it is a policy.
I know you don't understand policies, but it is a working policy
that I can bring forward.
And it will only provide, at best, 15% of the housing need
in East Cambridgeshire.
James was right, one part he said was right.
It could be part of a housing strategy.
But it's a very small part.
THEY ALL TALK AT ONCE
I'm afraid we don't have time for lots of facts on this issue.
If you'd just like to address that.
On the affordable point, the gentleman is correct.
Market discount, even at a 20% market discount is not affordable.
Basically, a local living rent, a third of your
salary, is affordable.
A 20% discount means the person who is at medium salary needs to be
in excess of 30,000.
The average salary is way below that.
That is one of the critical issues in terms of enabling
people like teachers, nurses to be able to afford
to live where they work, close to where they work.
We are now going over the same points.
If I may, I will move on to one of the other big
issues that we have.
Can I just say, the one elephant in the room, property developers
and the stranglehold they have...
AUDIENCE MEMBERS SHOUT
Just build council housing!
I'm going to!
I'm afraid we must move on, because transport I know is a key
issue for lots of people who are here tonight.
The lack of good road and rail links across this region,
they do impede its growth.
Now, there are plenty of plans in the pipeline.
Which ones will get the go-ahead?
Will it be upgrades to the A10, the A47 or the infamous A14?
When it comes to rail, should the priority be reconnecting
Wisech or improving Ely junction?
I think that one of the real problems is that politicians have
generally tended to look short-term at their own particular
slice of the cake.
Whereas I believe that the combined authority, getting a mayor in place,
is about actually looking strategically medium and long-term
at the whole cake and making sure that we get the priorities right
and get them in the right order in terms of delivery.
That is John Bridge there, in what was a particularly
heavy April shower!
Let's take our next question then, following on from those points,
from Nick Dibbon, who is from Rail Future.
Do the panel agree that reopening the March to Wisbech railway
is the key to unlocking development in Fenland?
Peter, let's start with you.
No, I don't.
I think it's much more important to improve the A47.
Although rail is very attractive from a passenger point of view,
what Wisbech needs is business, and business means goods transport.
And there is no plan for opening that line for goods.
I think if we are going to spend money on Wisbech, it
should be on the A47, not on the railway.
I don't see why it is an either/or.
I don't see why you shouldn't be ambitious and spend money on both.
I absolutely do believe in Wisbech rail, and it is not just
Wisbech that will benefit because if Ely North junction
is sorted, which it surely must be to solve the Wisbech problem,
then you get more rolling stock on the line, more
trains going into March, more trains going into Whittlesey,
more trains going from Peterborough, more rolling stock, including
Wisbech rail, allowing for growth in Fenland.
That is housing growth in Fenland, not just in Wisbech, of course.
It will allow for housing growth in March and in Whittlesey as well.
It is imperative, and I will be pushing for it.
I would like to take a quick show of hands.
Just raise your hand if you think this rail line and the reopening
of it is a good idea.
OK, it's not scientific, but that is roughly just over half
of the audience here tonight.
Are there any people here from Wisbech
who don't think it's a good idea?
Obviously it would be a wonderful idea if we could have it,
but it feels really like pie in the sky.
I do think the A47 is really important to us, and the bus service
in Wisbech is terribly important to us.
We have the most awful bus service that you can imagine.
I mean, for somebody in Wisbech to get to their local hospital,
they have to take four buses.
It's absolutely ludicrous.
So, yes, the rail link would be wonderful if it was achievable but,
for goodness' sake, let's please have the A47 open,
and a decent bus service.
Lots of hands raised.
Let's get around as many as we can.
I live in Wisbech, and I've lived there for ten years now.
I keep hearing lots of promises from our local MP and all the local
councillors that they are going to reopen the Wisbech rail line,
and we're still yet to see that money, and we're yet to see
any real development moving forward with that.
But I think one of the biggest issues with it, and I sway
towards the A47, if there was money to be invested, is that the train
station would be out of town.
We heard from Rod earlier that a fifth of people
in Fenland are without a car.
A third of the poorest people in Wisbech without a car have
absolutely no access to a bus service.
So what is the point in spending millions of pounds
on a train station that people still can't access?
There are lots of people clapping to this.
Sir, why do you agree with that?
Because can't imagine that many people would want to get on a train
between March and Wisbech.
Pure and simple?
Pure and simple.
Can I just say that in response to gentleman's question, it's not
about one mode of transport.
It's actually about all modes of transport.
The mayor should be setting out an integrated transport
plan for the region.
Similar to Transport for London.
It will basically enable people to move around
in all modes of transport, clearly focusing on things
like rail, bus and cycling, but also improving areas in terms
of people with private vehicles.
But a lot of people I speak to don't want to drive to work.
If they had a good, reliable, cheap public transport
system, they would use it.
Obviously a very popular point tonight.
We are going to continue with this topic.
Let's take a question now.
On the same theme, transport links around
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are historically bad.
What can the candidates promise in the wake of improved
rail and road links.
I'm particularly thinking of the poor links between Cambridge
and Peterborough, the two big cities, and also down
to Stansted airport.
And, as mentioned, particularly important is the A47 out
to Norwich and the East Coast.
OK, you had a lot to say on this subject, so let's come
to you for a couple of sentences in response to this question.
I'm committed to setting out an integrated strategic transport
plan, and the funding that the mayor has on the current devolved package
is not enough to meet that integrated transport plan.
My intention will be very simple, take that plan, take it
to government and ask them for the money.
This region is one of the key economic growth engines of this
country, and we deserve good transport connections.
You deserve good transport connections, and the Government
needs to give us the money to deliver it properly.
Not these piecemeal, short-term fantasy projects that
a lot of politicians are putting forward.
It needs to be thought through on a strategic bases for 40
years, not four years.
I'm going to insist that we interrupt there and bring
everyone else in on this.
Let's come to Paul next on this.
Thank you, yes, I think some of the audience have hit
the nail on the head.
What you've got a member is the mayor has a budget
of ?20 million a year.
You are not going to be able to deliver anything.
I will not promise you anything that I cannot deliver.
What I will promise you is I will look at what we have,
I will listen to local people.
I've listened to local people in Wisbech and,
to be perfectly honest, I haven't met one yet that
would prioritise the rail link above improving the road links.
We are predominantly a rural county, we do rely on our vehicles and we do
need those vehicles.
So my personal point that a macro choice would be first to look
at what we have and put it right.
There are lots of pinch points that need changing,
there are a lot of small changes that can be made to the transport
we currently have two make it work better and more efficiently.
The most important thing for an elected politician
in my point of view is to get the views of the local people.
Because it's no good...
What politicians have done for years is to tell you what you need
and what you're going to have.
Politics has to change.
The people in this county, in this country are not stupid.
They know what they want and they know what they need.
Politicians need to listen.
Let's throw this open because...
To deliver what they can for their needs...
You are here, so let's listen to them.
If you live in Wisbech, or wherever you live,
but your hand up, tell us what you need in terms of transport,
road and rail links.
My point is addressed to Rod.
I've been getting your leaflets through the door, and one
of the things you promise is having a railway station
south of Peterborough.
I ask you, have you actually been to the location where the rail
station is proposed?
If you have been there, you will know that that place,
the A15, is absolutely chock-a-block full of traffic and it's highly
impractical to spend that ?60 million or whatever
it is on that railway station when the main Peterborough train
station is five minutes away.
For a candidate who is criticising the other candidates and panellists
for their crazy idea, your idea seems very
much pie in the sky.
Have you been?
I have been and actually I went because the local plan set it out
as a strategic space for a railway station and Peterborough City
Council decided to remove it
in the consultation.
The reason why I'm keen, let me give you an illustration...
THEY ALL TALK AT ONCE I'm so sorry, I'm afraid we can't expand
even further on that.
Stephen, let's bring you in next on this issue.
What would you promise?
That's the question.
What would you promise in terms of road and rail?
I'm in a similar place to Paul on this in that I believe
that our resource is the residents, you people out there.
You know what problems you encounter everyday.
You know that if you actually try and get a train
from Whittlesey to Peterborough in the morning, it's easy.
If you try and get one back at night there's nothing
between 5:50pm and 7:50pm.
There's all sorts of things that could be sorted out without spending
vast amounts of money, and politicians locally
have failed to do that.
So, in the same way that on housing I'm saying let's make
the most of what we've got, I'm saying the same on transport.
Let's re-route buses slightly.
There's a bus that does not come through my village
and instead goes down the A15, through largely farmland.
That could be be rerouted through the village.
You probably know several issues yourself where there
are car pinch points, bus pinch points, stupid things that
trains do or don't do.
I don't want lots more trains whizzing through Whittlesey
to Cambridge, I want more trains stopping at the places where people
need to get on because we can relieve congestion that way.
OK, I'm just going to move this way and then I will come
back to you, I promise.
You will be next.
I want to break up this love affair with the car, I really do.
Don't think dualling is the answer to everything.
I don't think it's safer.
It can be just as dangerous.
Let's remember our health, let's remember that when we dual
places, we are encroaching into the environment.
I want us to start having an affair on the side with public transport,
with buses and with trains.
Let me tell you something that will blow your mind.
I have never driven, and I can't ride a bike.
You imagine how I live my life - because I have multiple sclerosis,
I can't do either of those things.
They are not open to me.
So I'm not able to get round the county in that way,
so I be understand the importance of public transport.
I am all about trains.
First and foremost, all the way.
So the Wisbech line, you would be keen on it?
Let's come back to Kevin.
Once again, we are leaving buses out of here.
I think one of the powers that the mayor will have
is a bus franchise.
I think that is an absolutely crucial part of what the mayor
will be able to do.
This devolution deal, this is the first deal.
We keep talking about the money that there is.
It was never intended that that would be where it would stop.
So there is potential to negotiate, for instance, with Network Rail
in terms of railways, to encourage them.
And, as Rod said, to go to government and demand
from government what we need here.
But essentially, if we have...
There are plenty of people speaking up for car drivers and the like.
There are very, very few people speaking for bus users.
I want to be a mayor that will speak for bus users and provides a decent
public transport system for them.
I do just want to bring in a couple of points.
Folks, I will take as many as I can.
If you can keep your point brief, please.
Yes, sir, we'll start with you.
I think it's pie in the sky.
While it's nice to say that everyone can get
on a bus and a train, we really do want
the roads improved.
The sparsity of the population in Cambridgeshire, you will never
get a good bus service to serve the population.
That's absolutely right.
If I may come in on that.
There is no way you can have a bus service that suitable
across the whole of the county unless you are brave enough to sort
out the road system.
It needs sorting out, the A10 is appalling,
there is no M11 extension.
The A47 is awful.
as well as the rail.
I will agree with my colleague on my left that we need to sort
the rail out as well.
There is no point putting extra buses riding all over
Cambridgeshire, taking hours to get from A to B unless we sort
out the roads first.
Mr Palmer, you have made your point.
Thank you very much.
The lady just over here.
It is great hearing about public transport.
I am all for it but it.
I am a driver but if I had the choice of getting a train or a
bus from A to B, I would be really happy.
The pie in the sky is, when these companies got the franchises
and bought the routes they were going to do,
you cannot change them because
all they will say they are doing the contractual agreement
that they have signed up for.
I just want to take one more point.
The gentleman there in the purple jumper.
There have been a lot of platitudes and a lot of theories
about what you want to do in housing, transport or what ever.
Nobody has said when they are expected to deliver something.
We will be delivering housing.
There is plenty to deliver.
From the word go.
There is plenty to deliver.
It doesn't just come down to this.
We can see if we can wrap up with that
at the end, sir.
I do want to move on to skills.
Although Cambridge has one of the most highly qualified
workforces in the country, the skill shortage is still a serious one.
This devolution deal wants to help tackle it.
There will be investment in a university for Peterborough.
The deal outlines ?20 million a year to help jobs in the next 30
years and to develop Peterborough's enterprise zone.
We see it as an opportunity to get the
area globally known, building on the many
strengths we already have.
It is a wrap around and it gives us a great opportunity.
In many ways in advance of other parts of the country.
We have to capitalise whilst the opportunity is there.
Let's move on with those points.
Our next question tonight.
How would the new mayor of Peterborough attract high skill
businesses and jobs to the city and how would they address the low
skill levels we have here?
I am going to come to you on the skills agenda.
It is imperative and so important for the mayor.
I want to work with the local schools and I have been
lobbying to government.
I have spoken to the Secretary of State for Education.
I want schools rewarded for placing children into apprenticeships.
Schools are only rewarded for GCSEs five A-Cs.
That is great and pushes people into further education.
I also want those people who are not hitting those targets
to get rewarded as well.
I want the young people who are not getting five A-Cs to be rewarded
with apprenticeship schemes linked with local business.
I think that is something we can do.
I have already spoken to the Secretary of State about it.
I'm prepared to put Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
through as a pilot scheme.
I will continue to lobby on that.
If we get apprentices, we create a workforce
for the 20th century, spreading the wealth far more evenly
through Cambridgeshire, and I want to connect Cambridgeshire
and Peterborough, and I want to bring the wealth south to north.
Kevin Price, I will come to you next.
That was something that we started out by saying, wanting to spread
that wealth and attract business away from the hotspot that is
Cambridge and take it further north.
Apprenticeships will be vital in this, absolutely vital in this.
I started my working life as an apprentice electrician.
I didn't stay at that, I went on and moved into the print trade.
That is what people did.
There was a lot more ability to get jobs
and apprenticeships in that time.
I think it is time we reverted to that because all the infrastructure
we are talking about, the building of the houses,
the railway, everything that we've talked about here tonight,
is going to require skilled workers.
The only way we are going to get skilled workers is to train them.
It's getting companies to take on apprentices.
That's how it used to work, and it worked really well
when we were building houses and doing stuff.
We had trained people, we've stopped doing that
to the country's detriment.
I noticed a hand going up there.
If you wouldn't mind just making your point quite quickly.
It's all very well talking about apprenticeships,
but 50% of children or young students in Peterborough do not meet
the Government targets of A-C, or whatever it is.
I think it needs to start earlier so that those children are not
being failed by the education system that exists in this city right now.
OK, thank you very much.
We are going to continue talking about skills.
Let's take the next question, then.
It's from Dr Charlie Bell.
Given we are an area with a vast number of higher and further
educational institutions, what are your plans to harness
this invaluable resource for the developer of the area,
and also for its population?
OK, how do we make more of what we already have, Julie?
Something I'd love to get rid off right away are these
awful unpaid internships.
That's something I would knock on the head right away.
I'm so glad I was born at the time I was because you know what?
I did my degree and a job and my life started.
Now young people can get to 30 and not be properly working.
What are we doing?
That's absolutely crazy.
I'd be putting real pressure, actually, and local businesses
to have internships.
And do everything I can to make sure there's a really smooth
path from university, or straight from school,
we should encourage young entrepreneurs so that they go
into something meaningful.
Also learn how to manage money and not lose
the house, like I did twice.
I will just say, there is a university technical college
in Peterborough which aims to teach the skills.
It opened a year late because there were not enough students.
How do you encourage the students to want to learn the skills?
That the whole thing, isn't it?
Making people aware that this is a bailable to them,
and what the benefits are.
I think young people stumble into adult life with no clue
and find themselves unstuck.
Paul, I will come to you next.
I think we need more technical skills.
I think the university system, especially in Cambridge,
is fine, it's doing its job, it is oversubscribed.
The worst thing we did in this country was to take our eye
Those of you who are lucky enough to own houses,
how often have you found that you can't find a plumber,
an electrician, a bricklayer to do work that you need?
We've lost it.
Not everybody has the aptitude to go to university.
But people do have the aptitude, young people, to learn skills
that we desperately need.
If we have the skilled trades people within the county,
then businesses will come here because they know there
are employees that they can employ.
So I think we need to concentrate more on the technical side rather
than the academic side.
I think we need to really concentrate back on apprenticeships,
we need more skilled people in this country who are hands-on tradesmen
who can actually do those jobs that we need doing.
Can I just say, the mayor has a major opportunity.
The university for Peterborough is a fantastic opportunity
that the mayor has that has to be delivered by 2020 to really
reinvigorate skills and education.
Not only that, but reinvigorate the city centre of Peterborough as well.
It will provide important growth.
You will have your say on this issue, I promise.
I do want to take a few quick points from the audience if I can.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you make them brief,
we will get around as many as we can.
You make your point about children going to university,
which these days they know at primary school now,
if they will be led that way, towards university.
My stepdaughter has been fortunate enough to be part of that
extra part of school.
I didn't go to university.
So why do you want to train and teach these kids
that are not academic, because they are not academic.
Why train them?
Why don't you have employers coming into schools, workshops,
teach them how to lay bricks before they leave school.
A lot of support on the panel therefore that point.
I want to come up to the back row here, back left, please.
The last time we had a real opportunity to open up
the university in this area, the politicians managed to open it
up in the one place in the world that didn't need one,
Can we have your assurance from every one of you that,
by the time you go for pre-election, you will finally open a door
to a Peterborough University?
APPLAUSE PANEL MEMBERS: Yes.
I think there are nods across-the-board.
That's all we have to say.
Yes, let's come over here, please.
We keep talking about technical skills and everything,
but one of the professions that actually is being so
neglected at the moment is the teaching profession.
There is all of this, you can start on a tax-free bursary,
get into teaching now.
But that is only apply if you do maths, physics.
What about primary school teaching when you are teaching children how
to read from the age of six.
We know that that is a problem in Peterborough because so many
of our primary school children are not meeting the
What about professions like teaching?
I want to take another point of here if I can?
Yes, back row.
I agree with much of what is said regarding apprenticeships.
It is fundamental but it will take time.
However, as a business owner, we are reliant
on high-quality migration and very high-quality linguist skills.
Last year, Huntington suffered a very unpleasant attack,
asking these people to go home.
I am aware that there is a bleed of families returning.
With the opportunities to lose high-quality people now,
what with the candidates do to step forward and say, you are a vital
to maintain what we, as employees, need.
To lose them is a disaster.
Ladies and gentlemen.
We do not have time for all of you answer that this evening.
You have time until May the 4th to make your point is known.
I want to take another question, if I can.
It comes from Sue Marshall.
10% of Fenland population have no qualifications, compared
to the national average of one and a half percent.
What will be candidates do to improve opportunities
and skills training, especially for young people?
Young people is the focus.
I think all this about training and skills has got to be shifted
from the education establishment to the employers.
In particular, not so much the employers, as the employed.
The people with the skills are at the brick layers
and the computer programmers.
We have got to shift the training process into that sort
of a mentoring place.
Frankly, skills taught in colleges are not hard skills.
The hard skills you get by doing the job and you do...
The best way of doing the job is doing it next to somebody
who knows how to do it.
For too long now we have been putting the skills agenda
into education establishments.
It belongs in the businesses.
This isn't an excuse for businesses getting cheap labour.
This is all about businesses training the people that they need,
rather than taking a subsidy from elsewhere.
Just briefly, this was not a general point.
It was about the Fens.
It seems it is struggling.
How would you change it?
It is a good example.
There are a skilled people in Fenland.
The problem you have in Fenland is getting your
children to the college.
If they are working with the other skilled people within Fenland,
they are getting their training close to home and
with their employers.
Let's continue on this one.
I am a resident of Fenland.
I was amused earlier on when one of the panellists talked
about stumbling in to work.
That is exactly what I did.
I had no idea what I wanted to do.
I got bored with school and wanted to go out to work.
I went out to work and realised I should not have bunked off
during my A levels and I went back and got training and I have
done reasonably well.
There is a mix of people out there with a desire sometimes to go
on to educational qualifications and sometimes not.
That is why we need to provide apprenticeships so people who have
not got the academic qualification have to go to university.
My wife and I have a discussion, let's say, about my step son.
She would like him to go to university.
I say, it's not for everybody.
If he can pick up life skills elsewhere and can find technical
college places like I did, there is no reason why
he shouldn't be a success.
In the Fens, we need to get those skills.
Peterborough university can provide some of those
answers, but we still got the transportation problems.
As Peter says, employers also have a role to play.
Let's pick up a couple of points from the audience.
One of the major reasons for the relatively low unemployment
at the moment is the number of people that have set
up their own businesses.
I don't think I've heard much from the panel about helping people
set up their own, rather than getting a job
working for somebody else.
Yes, I really think that this amounts to money.
The Government have massively cut money to local government.
Peterborough needs more money.
We've got unique problems and we need money for that.
We've got people who want to set up businesses
that can't afford the
This whole thing...
What I'm hearing here, as far as I'm concerned, is absolute
rubbish because you as mayor, they are not
going to have the money to do anything!
Let's come to you.
You're not going to have the money to do anything.
Just on the point of setting up a business.
As someone who has set up and run my own
business, I fully support the idea of people being entrepreneurs.
Just coming back to the question in relation to Fenland.
There are three simple measures.
Firstly, as I've knocked on doors and talk to people
in Fenland, they don't feel the benefit of the wealth that this
region has created.
The critical thing for the mayor is to basically
put jobs back in to Fenland.
That's the first point.
The second point is, the 170 million we have to
spend on housing could be spent in a smart way.
By building into contracts apprenticeships so that
those companies that are building the homes
have them for
people in the region so they are being skilled up.
The third point I would make is one of the crises we
face is the county council have cut bus fares for people between 16 and
18 to go to further education colleges.
So people are taking life decisions because they cannot get to
further educational colleges.
As mayor, I would basically put that funding back.
That is critical.
I have benefited from the fact that...
I come from a mining village in North Nottinghamshire,
I went to a comphrehensive, and I went...
My life chances were such that I was able to benefit from education.
It's important for our young people that they are able to as well.
OK, finally, and I really do mean it, in one word.
Just coming back to that point, as mayor, will you have enough
money to change things?
Yes or no?
Janine, we've seen...
Yes or no?
We've seen in the past that yes or no decisions are not very
favourable, as we saw with Brexit.
So the answer is that is we don't have enough funding.
I would certainly ask the Government...
Ladies and gents, this is not a free for all.
Obviously, this is a subject that is going to continue.
Of course, on May the 4th, it will be time to make history.
It will be time to choose the very first
elected mayor for Cambridge and Peterborough.
The question is, of course, which of these candidates
have earned your vote?
For now, thanks to a much to all of our
guests on the panel for joining us here in Peterborough tonight.
Thank you to you for taking part.
From all of us here in Peterborough, a very
I thought the debate was really interesting, and the part that I
felt most concerned about was there were people at the debate
who did not think that the mayor would be an
I came to see whether the position was worthwhile.
Particular with regards to education.
I have to say, what came across to me is that I'm not sure
how much teeth they will have.
At the end of the day, it will come down to money.
There were lots of interesting topics raised tonight,
but overall I think they've actually been quite bland.
There has been no sort of strong commitments.
There's not enough money to do what is
really, really needed.
I found that a lot of the talk about apprenticeships quite interesting
because in Peterborough we've got the University, the technical
college, so it's interesting finding out what the candidates for that
skills and the alternatives University.
Basically, I think I've heard five candidates try to
reinvent the wheel.
It is still round.
We need to be all council housing.
I think it may just be a way of shifting responsible at it
from the Government which is not doing its job to give someone else
It was interesting to see them all speak tonight.
I think they all had good points to make.
Some of them also make points that were
probably not things that I would agree with.
So I shall review what I heard and what I saw, and I will
make a considered decision, and I will be voting
on the 4th of May.
Spring is arriving - in a whirlwind of pink.
We're in Japan to celebrate the sakura.
On May 4 the polls will open to elect the first mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. They will have wide-ranging powers over housing, transport and skills. Who will the people choose? Janine Machin hosts a debate in which a live audience questions the candidates on what lies in store for the area.