This Cambridgeshire businessman wants to be mayor of East Anglia - who is he?

Peter Dawe - a contender for mayor of East Anglia

Peter Dawe - a contender for mayor of East Anglia - Credit: Archant

The first out of the starting blocks in the race to become mayor of East Anglia is a Cambridgeshire-based businessman.

Peter Dawe announced this week that he intends to stand for the post – even though the proposals announced in last month's budget could yet be rejected amid cross-party opposition from councillors across the region.

Despite having Ely headquarters for his far-reaching enterprises, the 61-year-old said he does have a wide knowledge of the region which could be handed £30m from the Treasury over the next 30 years, along with £175m for housing, as part of the devolution deal.

Mr Dawe says he plans to stand even if Cambridgeshire rejects the deal and the vacancy is for a directly elected mayor just for Norfolk and Suffolk.

'I spend a lot of my time in Norfolk, I have two or three businesses there. I tend to do my shopping in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk so there are some aspects of it.

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'It will be a learning thing. I am much more interested in looking at the problems and putting forward viable solutions rather than just harping on that the old solutions just need more money which is what I feel the councillors tend to do.'

Questioned about whether, as a Cambridgeshire-based candidate he would understand issues such as the need for a Lowestoft third crossing or a Long Stratton by-pass, he said: 'I know some of it. But I know it is all decided on a very piecemeal way with no consistent vision.

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'I was involved and opposed the Yarmouth Outer Harbour while I was on EEDA [the East of England Development Agency]. I was out-voted. The key thing about the Outer Harbour was there were no plans to sort out the Acle Straight for the supposed extra traffic. I have some familiarity with it, but that is part of the job, finding out.'

'Any geography is always going to be diverse. The differences between Yarmouth, Watton and Norwich are just as great as the differences between Yarmouth, March and Cambridge. One of the things I get angry about is the towns wanting to bully the majority because 'we are the towns'.'

Mr Dawe is planning to stand as an independent despite being a member of the UK Independence Party.

'I think there will be enough party politics in the councils I have to work with. Being independent I can work equally with Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP councils.'

He admitted he risked losing the support of county councillors claiming he believed the government plan with elected mayors was to subsume their powers into his brief.

He said their education powers were disappearing, social care could be combined with health care and traffic and strategic management would be going to the new combined authority. 'The only thing the county council would be left with is going to committee meetings.'

In his first year he said he would have some quick, easy and effective wins on housing and transportation in mind, although he would not be making public the details yet.

'The other major objective I will have is protecting low-lying areas of Norfolk from a storm surge. My belief is that Norfolk and Cambridge fens are living on borrowed time. They are just not talking about it.'

Comment – Page 38

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