Ward sets sights on future after stunning electoral win

Claire Ward

The first directly-elected mayor of the East Midlands Claire Ward is waking up this morning looking forward to a four-year term in trying to raise the profile and level of investment in the East Midlands.

After her stunning victory over the Tory candidate, Ben Bradley, was finally announced on Friday afternoon, former Labour MP Ward looked to the future.

Speaking on the BBC’s politics East Midlands programme over the weekend, Ward said: “It’s so exciting, it’s been an amazing campaign, a really positive campaigning.

“We really go people engaged, I think, in what this could be, but we’ve got so much more work to do over the next four years to make sure that when we get to that next election even more people know about the East Midlands mayor and have a positive view of what we can achieve.”

Reacting to Ward’s win, East Midlands Chamber chief executive, Scott Knowles, said: “I’d like to extend my congratulations to Claire Ward as she takes on this new role of Combined County Authority mayor. I look forward to sharing insight with Claire into the needs of businesses in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire as this new chapter for the two counties unfolds.

“I wish Claire every success as Combined County Authority mayor and at East Midlands Chamber we stand ready to work with Claire in highlighting the key issues facing businesses in the East Midlands.

“While there is plenty of growth potential in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, the skills gap and the need for reform in areas like transport are ever present, as are the prohibitive costs of doing business.

“The findings of our latest Quarterly Economic Survey clearly identify the pressure points for businesses in our region, while the Manifesto for Growth 2024 we presented to the government earlier this year sets out our asks across the four I’s of Infrastructure, International Trade, Innovation and Investment.”

Meanwhile, Nikki Paterson, CBI regional director for the Midlands, said: “Congratulations to Claire Ward and Richard Parker on their election as East and West
Midlands Mayors respectively.

“After a difficult few years for people and businesses across the Midlands, there’s really no time to waste in getting the local economy firing once again.

“Delivering jobs, opportunity and prosperity has to be at the very top of the new mayors’ ‘to do’ lists. That means pressing ahead with ambitious plans to modernise the local economy and bring high growth sectors to the area.

“Advancing plans to build a Gigafactory at the Coventry Airport site and continuing to support high growth potential sectors, like tech and advanced manufacturing, would be two significant steps to achieving that goal.

“With East Midlands Hydrogen also representing the UK’s largest inland hydrogen cluster, we need to see greater collaboration between the mayors’ office and industry leaders to ensure we can fully capitalise on this incredible driver of growth.”