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Why MP won't stand as mayor

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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HOW about this? Torbay MP Adrian Sanders decides not to stand in the next general election but has a go at becoming the resort's next directly elected mayor instead?

Sounds preposterous, especially as Mr Sanders has only recently called for the mayoral system to be ditched, falling out with current mayor Gordon Oliver along the way.

And now virtually impossible as Mr Sanders has revealed for the first time that he will be standing for re-selection with the intention of fighting the Tories at the ballot box in May, 2016.

Not that the mayoralty suggestion has not been mentioned to the MP.

He says: "I have had people ask if I wanted to do it. The answer is you cannot do the two jobs. I am better in the job I am doing than I would be as mayor. I want to get rid of the mayor's post."

The Lib Dem party locally has already set its selection timetable and Mr Sanders, now in his 16th year as an MP, wants to continue.

He says: "Yes, of course, I am going to stand. I am not going to let the Tories have the seat back that I worked so hard and fought to get.

"I think there is still a job to be done extracting more support for this area."

What are his chances, especially as many die-hard Lib Dems weren't exactly ecstatic when their party got in bed with the Tories to form a coalition Government?

Mr Sanders says he hopes people will realise and see what has been achieved with the influence coalition brings — things like the Kingskerswell bypass, better faster broadband and water bill rebates.

He says: "What we have achieved is remarkable.

"They would have got a Tory MP who would have wanted things far worse than they have been."

Not that he was entirely happy with some elements of the coalition deal.

He maintains his party should have insisted on a proportional representation voting system.

And he says he has stood his ground on things like further privatisation of the NHS, tuition fees and a referendum on Europe which he said he would back.

He has defied three line whips and that's probably why he has stayed on the back benches.

He says: "Colleagues who have been ministers say there is a great deal of satisfaction influencing things on a day to day basis. There is an attractiveness.

"But I could not in all honesty have defended the health and social care bill. I could not have defended tuition fees or voted for changes in the welfare system.

"I put principle above career."

He still insists: "Better a coalition MP than a Tory MP."

Just a bit more on that spat with Mr Oliver and that mayoral system.

The mayor has taken a pop at the local government settlement for Torbay — which will see the council having to make cuts of £10million — and those MPs who voted for it.

Mr Sanders claims: "If Gordon Oliver is going to attack the MP he should check out first whether he has voted or not.

"The Minister has announced the local government proposed settlement. We now enter a consultation period before we have a final vote in February."

He said Torbay should now be focussing on making a case on why the council should receive more money as opposed to another area.

"If they want the support of MPs, they should not attack them before they have voted," says Mr Sanders.

He says if Torbay makes a good case he would consider voting against the proposed settlement.

I for one am not holding my breath...

I SEE councillor Dave Butt is back home after being caught in a Nadine Dorries-style rumpus.

Nadine was the mid-Beds MP who raised some eyebrows when she took herself off to the Australian jungle to spend time with Ant and Dec on ITV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

Similar eyebrows were raised when Cllr Butt disappeared for more than five weeks to holiday with his family Down Under.

Was it right that a councillor, especially with a special responsibility — he is in charge of culture and the arts — be away for such a long time and when departments are being tasked with looking at ways of making big savings due to budget cuts?

Cllr Butt was unrepentant. He emailed me while he was away to say: "People seem to be interested in my holiday over Christmas, so I thought you would like to know that I am visiting my daughter and her family in Brisbane.

"Everything in my portfolio is on track and I shall also be dealing with my emails while away.

"All the officers I work with and my group members know this, so it will be just the same service as when I am here."

Now back in his Preston ward, he says: "I am back from Australia and have just got over the jet lag.

"If people had looked at the facts behind this they would not have wasted their time making comments.

"My main job is to raise funds rather than manage multi-million pound budgets. I was happy everything was organised before I went away.

"If there anything else that needed to be discussed they could have contacted me via email."

Perhaps, we should organise a special council chamber bush tucker trial for Mr B...

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