Tory MP Ben Bradley launches bid to become first East Midlands Mayor

Ben Bradley is also the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and already has the backing of several conservative MPs in his mayoral bid..

Tory MP Ben Bradley has launched a bid to become the first mayor of the East Midlands.

The Mansfield MP, who is also leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, says he will offer 'freedoms and choice, not restrictions and cost' if elected.

He said he wants a system that brings decisions back to local people rather than them being made in Westminster.

A mayoral role is intended as part of a new devolution package for the region, with the first election expected to take place next May.

On Sunday night (2 July), Mr Bradley used his mayoral bid launch to criticise London Mayor Sadiq Khan and set out his opposition to an ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) for the East Midlands.

He said: "Devolution offers so much potential but what we certainly don't need is devolution that creates more bureaucracy and higher bills for taxpayers.

"Instead we need a system that brings decisions right up close to local people, because they know better than anyone in Whitehall how to improve their communities."

The council leader also hit out at what he believes to be a shift "leftwards" in the country since the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added: "We have the highest tax burden since the Second World War, while state spending is around 45% of the economy.

"In London, Sadiq Khan's leadership is defined by a left-wing view that the state knows best. It's defined by politicians telling businesses what they can and cannot advertise by ever-increasing fees and charges, and ever more burdensome regulation around driving your car.

"Policies like Ulez are deeply unpopular socialist measures, rammed through by lobby groups against the wishes of ordinary voters."

He warned that the Conservative party "must not fall into the trap of allowing English devolution to be defined by left-leaning politicians who are least capable of capitalising on what it offers".

He claimed: "My commitment to the people of the East Midlands is that as mayor I would use these powers only for their benefit, never at their cost.

"I will never introduce the kinds of charges and restrictions on people's lives that Labour mayors have done.

"I will never make you pay more to drive to work. If elected I will offer freedom and choice, not restrictions and costs."