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Who could be the first Mayor of Greater Lincolnshire?

Greater Lincolnshire is on its way to elect a mayor in May 2025 as part of the devolution deal — but who could be in the running to take on this pivotal role?

Lincolnshire County Council has already thrown its support behind the proposed devolution deal, which is expected to bring an additional £24 million per year to the region.

Both North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire Councils are expected to follow suit in the coming days, paving the way for a new era in local democracy.

Potential candidates who could be looking at running for Mayor of Lincolnshire
Potential candidates who could be looking at running for Mayor of Lincolnshire

Should all councils endorse the deal, it will be advanced to the central government, which will then move on to the establishment of the Greater Lincolnshire Mayoral Combined County Authority.

If all goes according to plan, officials believe that elections for the Mayor of Lincolnshire could be held around May 2025. However, there is no clear timeline yet for when nominees will be shortlisted.

While it is still early days and nothing is set in stone, we can make some well-informed predictions about the potential contenders for this significant role meant to act as a cheerleader for Lincolnshire, fighting our corner in the halls of government, and manage the additional funds it secures.

Here’s our list of local politicians who, based on their experience and public service records, might be well-suited for the mayoral role.

Martin Hill (Conservative)

Having led Lincolnshire County Council since 2005, Martin Hill has emerged as one of the primary potential candidates for the mayoral role, given his prominent role in spearheading the devolution campaign and his political flair.

Recently, Jan Hansen, a rival and former councillor of South Kesteven District Council residing in Coun Hill’s ward, dubbed him the “preferred candidate” for the mayoral position given his intimate knowledge of the devolution deal.

Could a council leader wear two hats? One certainly can, and our neighbours in Nottinghamshire are such an example. Ben Bradley is the MP for Mansfield and also the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council.

Rob Waltham (Conservative)

Rob Waltham has been the Leader of North Lincolnshire Council since January 2017 and the ward councillor for Brigg and Wolds, after his tenure representing the Burringham and Gunness ward. He was honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2017.

During a full council meeting in December, Labour Councillor Andrea Davison criticised the devolution deal for the additional layer of bureaucracy it will bring. She also suggested that Coun Waltham is pushing the devolution deal to further his own career prospects.

Coun Waltham views the devolution deal as a harbinger of a prosperous future. “It brings opportunity, particularly for younger people,” he emphasised.

“Having more money means we will get the opportunity to tackle some of the big infrastructure challenges, create new opportunities for young people and make sure we can tackle flood defence stuff.”

Kelham Cooke (Conservative)

Coun Kelham Cooke, a younger candidate from the Conservative party, might be a strong contender.

Despite being voted out as the leader of South Kesteven District Council in May 2023, he has maintained his position as a county councillor for the Stamford East ward.

Is he now positioning himself for his next major role? He certainly has the political skills to be a frontrunner:?

Karen Lee (Labour)

County Councillor Karen Lee emerges as another potential candidate, drawing on her established London networks from her time as a former MP.

In 2017, she won the Lincoln parliamentary seat, defeating Conservative MP Karl McCartney, though she was later defeated by McCartney again in the 2019 elections.

Despite the political shifts, she has maintained her role as the county councillor for Lincoln’s Ermine and Cathedral ward.

Recently, she has also stepped into the position of leader of the Labour group at Lincolnshire County Council, succeeding Councillor Rob Parker following his passing.

Marianne Overton (Independent)

On the Independent front, Coun Marianne Overton stands out as a potential candidate.

She holds roles as a district councillor for North Kesteven District Council and as a county councillor.

Moreover, she is the leader of the Lincolnshire Independents group and has been the leader of the Local Government Association Independent Group since 2011.

In 2015 she also ran for the MP seat in Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Despite her recent criticism of the devolution deal at the latest full council meeting, one might wonder if there’s a sense of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them?’ in her approach.

Ross Pepper (Liberal Democrat)

For the Liberal Democrats, Ross Pepper emerges as a promising candidate.

He was the party’s parliamentary candidate for Lincoln in May 2015 and holds significant local roles: he is not only the local chair of the Liberal Democrats but also serves as a councillor for Skellingthorpe.

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In 2021, he ventured into the political arena as the Lib Dem candidate for the Lincolnshire Police & Crime Commissioner election, but he was defeated by the Conservative candidate Marc Jones, who has been in office since 2016.

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