Tuesday 2 May 2017

Cambs Mayor candidates talk business to HBN and online audience

Peter Dawe and Rod Cantrill talk business and ambitions for Cambridgeshire Mayor post to HBN and an online audience.

Video and podcast recording of Friday's HBN Mayoral Hustings in Alconbury Weald.

All seven candidates had been invited. Three agreed to come, Kevin Price (Labour), Rod Cantrill (Liberal Democrats) and Peter Dawe (Independent). On the day, only Peter and Rod appeared. Both actually had real business experience in the past.

Richard Wishart conducted the live broadcast from his phone on Twitter. I also used my H1 microphone to record a separate audio track for a podcast.

Video broadcast:  https://www.pscp.tv/Richard_Wishart/1yNxaqjvrqExj?t=2
Actual event starts at about 3 mins 30 seconds into recording.

Podcast (better audio):

Event held by the Huntingdonshire Business Network on Friday 28th April at Alconbury Weald with an audience of 15 local businesses in the room and 90+ viewers on a live Twitter video broadcast.

Timed notes of Questions and responses in Podcast (add about 3 minutes 30 seconds for corresponding video timings)

  • 25s Richard Wishart introduces live streaming 
  • 1m 45s Dr Chris Thomas, Chair -  Introduction 
  • 2m 40s Audience introduce themselves 
  • 5m 15s Chris Introduces speakers 
  • 5m 40s Rod Cantrill (Liberal Democrat) introduces himself. Concerns about transport and affordable housing. Worry about Brexit; Experience and ambitions as Mayor. 
  • 11m 0s Peter Dawe (Independent) introduces himself as an entrepreneur. Lists achievements in Business, Social Enterprise activity, County Council and EEDA. Application to being mayor. 
  • 16m 40s first question: What two things would you do to make things happy in Cambridgeshire. Peter Dawe – reducing misery (housing, commuting). Rod Cantrill – making sustainable caring communities. 
  • 19m 45s second question. What sort of powers will mayor actually have? Peter Dawe – Councillors regaining role as leaders of communities rather than blocking them. Finding resources within the community, Mini-mayors. Rod Cantrill – devolution should empower people. Complexity levels of councils, LEP etc. Therefore rationalise layers to Unitary Authority, plus Combined Authority Plus Mayor. Components of influence – financial £170m to encourage right decisions with local development; as an influencer/voice. Peter Dawe – focussed on more current situations. 
  • 26m 0s Business related, What are you doing for local businesses – ambition to get 100,000 businesses in region, currently have 79,000. 
  • 28m 0s Restatement of question – What are your visions for attracting small businesses and more businesses.  Rod Cantrill, creating opportunities for jobs in this region. E.g. small industrial units as set up around Cambridge. Broadband is an issue that needs to be expanded. Ensuring that employees have the right skills. Peter Dawe – We do not have a job shortage, we have an employee shortage. Why attract more people to use up resources? Need proper balanced planning re housing etc for new influx. Recommendation to government, stop trying to help small businesses, you don’t know what you are doing. Also stop supporting big businesses as they come in and trump the small businesses. Can increase value of jobs – e.g. very good ambition for Fenland.  
  • 32m 35s Rod Cantrill. Continued issue in Fenland re number of jobs and re quality of jobs £10,000 lower than Cambridge. Mayor has to influence at many levels. 
  • 33m 40s Response from LEP Fiona McGonigle – Education in region getting worse. Biggest issue skills, need to  make sectors interesting for students to go into. What would you do to address issues.  Rod Cantrill – Issue of work related colleges being concentrated in certain sites, yet buses not available or support withdrawn –so students in outlying villages having to make life choices on this issue. Peter Dawe – technology can provide solutions. Do not need to just concentrate on one site –could follow Open University model with local tutors, learning on the job and delivering education through internet. Fiona – challenges in that this requires a lot of self motivation, most of education system does not result in Students self motivated enough for this solution. Peter Dawe emphasises need to embrace new change. 
  • 38m 40s Chair - But we need good internet access – audience poll who suffers from internet connection problems, most of audience. Richard Wishart – about BT’s test of 1Gb connection trialed and then withdrawn in Huntingdonshire. Rod Cantrill – reiterates that personal contact still important and comes back to lack of infrastructure and decent bus connections and bus fares for the young and the elderly.  
  • 41m 55s –Audience comment about retirees – having bus passes that they hardly use but could pass on. Living in village and wanting to downsize but cannot because moving from large house to village to small house in town impossible due to costs. 
  • 43m 00 Audience comment on houses being built which people can move into and live in, freeing up  housing stock for small families. Response Peter Dawe, currently have a total broken market, though bad planning – example Alconbury Weald – very car based. What people want is a dense service rich environment. Instead we build garden cities without a centre or with facilities remote from living areas. Construction is pandering to village councillors. Under his mayorship he will redress. 
  • 46m 40s – Question – Majority of businesses (more than 90% ) are sole traders or micro-businesses – how are you going to help them? Rod Cantrill – building stable sustainable communities – create market for your services. Peter Dawe – Councils say no to new ideas and businesses. Gives 2 examples. Need councils to be proactive with business development 
  • 50m 45s Audience Question – what powers does Mayor over council and housing projects? Rod Cantrill – Finance given to Mayor – to exert persuasion to councils. Mayor can set up development corporation. Ex Mayor of London took control of Olympic Park. Associated problems – bringing public along. 
  • 52m 35 – Another audience not connect or alienated is microbusinesses – Local business support has disappeared – questions audience where is your work – most of businesses work in the wider region and nationally and internationally. Rod Cantrill understands but also notes that there are many local businesses and shops. Again emphasises building and being part of a local community.  
  • 54m 34s Do mayors  have influence on business rates or businesses coming into a region? Peter Dawe says no, city centres turning into leisure destinations, not shopping destinations. People buy on brand and that this will challenge small businesses – this is beyond reach of mayor. Rod Cantrill –it is critical that we DO have small independent retailers, effect of local communities. Back to ability to localise business rates. Consultation has been set back due to General election. Raises issue of social care – the reduction of the Block grant to local authorties from £84n to zero. 
  • 58m 0s – Companies and organisations in Alconbury and wider region not advertising and employing small and micro businesses. Peter Dawe, the fact that the small businesses exist suggests that they are getting business. Mayor will support using local resources and capacity. Gives bad examples of past actions.  
  • 1h 00m 5s Question about future of Fenland. Rod Cantrill returns to previous question – again would support smart finding of building and other businesses locally. 
  • 1h 1m 55s Invitation to 2 candidates to give their conclusions in 1 m  Peter Dawe – the failure and lack of respect for local government. He believes root and branch reform needed. Through leadership he can make local government work for the region. Rod Cantrill – role of the mayor needs to be voice for everyone in the Region. Returns to comment on Fenland – progress there in the Mayors term will be a measure of achievement. 
  • 1h 4m 20s Concluding remarks and thanks by chair and audience. 
  • 1h 5m 30s close of formal business 
  • 1h 5m 55s – some important last questions

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