Political

Former Lib Dem MP bids to be candidate for new West of England Mayor

Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West until 2015, is bidding to be the party’s candidate for the newly created directly elected Mayor of West of England post:

The region voted 57% for Remain. The Lib Dems are therefore expected to have a strong showing in the election. Ex-Bristol West MP Stephen Williams has confirmed to MayorWatch that he is standing to be the Lib Dem candidate, and is expected to announce on the 4th February. He faces competition in the selection for the nomination from [ex]Bristol Councillor Simon Cook. [MayorWatch]

The post is part of a devolution deal creating a West of England Combined Authority, whose powers include significant devolved transport and adult education responsibilities along with a £30m a year budget for investment to boost growth and the power to add up to two pence in the pound on business rates to fund infrastructure investment.

West of England in this case means the areas covered by Bristol City Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council. (But not North Somerset Council which opted-out of the deal.)

Although the Liberal Democrats have generally opposed the creation of directly elected Mayors, Dorothy Thornhill in Watford and Dave Hodgson in Bedford show the benefits having a Liberal Democrat in such a post can bring.

UPDATE: Stephen Williams won the selection.

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