Ex-John Lewis boss Andy Street defends £1m mayor campaign

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Andy Street said the metro mayor poll was a “very important election”

The Conservative candidate to become West Midlands metro mayor has defended spending up to £1m on campaigning.

Andy Street said he “had not spent quite £1m” as reports suggested but accepted he had “spent a substantial amount more than my opponents”.

The ex-John Lewis boss said the cost was “absolutely appropriate” as the 4 May election was “a new start in democracy” for the region.

Labour’s candidate Sion Simon said the rules on spending should be tightened.

The spending limit for the final weeks of campaigning is set at about £130,000, but there is no limit before then.

Mr Street said: “Everyone has the same rules to work within, we were able to raise that money.”

Questioned on his being called the “Donald Trump of British politics”, Mr Street said: “Everyone loves that line.

“There’s one similarity of course; a business background.. but there the similarity ends in terms of our beliefs.”

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Sion Simon said the rules on campaign spending were unfair

Mr Simon told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You can’t blame Andy for sticking to the rules but it does beg the question whether the rules are right.

“No rules at all, a complete free for all, until six weeks before polling day – I don’t think that’s the right way to go about this.”

He said in general elections the regulated period begins much earlier.

Beverley Nielsen, the Liberal Democrats candidate, said she had raised about £50,000 for campaigning and could not afford to leaflet every house.

She would also like to see mayoral elections have the same funding regulations as other elections, adding: “The public should hear the voice of all parties.”

On Thursday, six people will bid to become the West Midlands’ first metro mayor, taking on powers over economic development, education and skills, housing and transport.

James Burn will represent the Green Party; Peter Durnell the UK Independence Party and Graham John Stevenson is the Communist candidate.

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