Claire Ward says Labour ready for general election after huge East Midlands Mayor win

Claire Ward, the first ever East Midlands Mayor, wearing a red jacket at the Nottingham Tennis Centre count
Claire Ward, the first ever East Midlands Mayor -Credit:Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post

Claire Ward says she is "confident" that Labour are ready for a general election after winning the race to become the first-ever East Midlands Mayor. The result of the contest was announced at the Nottingham Tennis Centre on Friday (May 3), with Ms Ward securing a huge majority.

The former Watford MP and current chair of the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust attended the election count with her husband and daughter. Living in the Ollerton area, the 51-year-old will now serve the entirety of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire for the next four years.

Ms Ward is leading the brand new East Midlands Combined County Authority, which is being given powers to make decisions on local issues currently made in Westminster. It is therefore being given £38 million every year for the next 30 years to deliver local decision-making and projects.

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Asked about her priorities for the role, Ms Ward said: "I've got some things I want to be able to get on with, but obviously this is a brand new authority. There is some work to do in order to get it set up, to make sure that we've got the right teams, the right partnerships, the right engagement right across our region with all the different partners, so there's going to be a huge amount of work to do in that."

In Nottinghamshire, Ms Ward was ahead of the Conservative Party's Ben Bradley in every single district apart from Newark. The Labour Mayor is therefore confident about the upcoming general election, whenever it is called.

Asked whether this campaign saw voters vote on local issues, or whether they were instead sending a message to Westminster, Ms Ward said it was a "mix of both." The East Midlands Mayor added: "[People] are so utterly fed up with this Government, with the Conservative control around our region. They were wanting to send a message and hopefully this is just the start.

"If the Prime Minister would like to call the general election, I'm quite confident we're ready. Out in those districts, we were winning in those areas and those are the ones that we need to win for the general election in order to form a government.

"There's lots of key seats here, so this is I think sending a very strong message to this Government that it's time for change. Bring on that general election and let us make the case to the people of the East Midlands."