Mansfield’s MP Ben Bradley has revealed he will likely make a decision in the autumn over whether to run to become the East Midlands’ first elected mayor.
Councillor Bradley (Con), who also leads Nottinghamshire County Council, has long been linked with the role after pushing to get the £1.14bn devolution deal over the line.
However, he has repeatedly refused to say outright whether he will run for the position despite describing it as a “really exciting role”.
Now he has revealed a decision is expected to be made later this year on whether to contest the position ahead of the May 2024 poll.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Wednesday (February 8), Cllr Bradley said: “Those are decisions I’ll probably have to look at and take this autumn, which is when the selection processes will take place.
“That’s still a long way away, and lord knows where we will be.”
It comes after the devolution deal was signed by council leaders and the Government last August.
It will bring new powers and funding to the region alongside a new combined authority to govern Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire.
Policy areas due to receive cash include education and skills, health, transport, planning and economic development, with at least £38m per year for 30 years to be handed to local leaders from Whitehall.
The deal depends on the passing of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – the national legislation needed for the devolution agreement to come into effect.
The bill is currently being debated by the House of Lords and is expected to be given royal assent to become law later this year.
This will allow the region’s combined authority to be created through a behind-the-scenes committee before the authority is then set up in ‘shadow’ form.
Staff can then be hired to work in the authority, with plans in place to create strategies and policies for the new mayor ahead of their May 2024 election.
Speaking on progress with devolution, Cllr Bradley added: “There will be a very specific ‘statutory instrument’ committee behind the scenes [in Westminster].
“This will pull together the legislation needed to create our specific combined authority.
“We expect by the autumn that this will be sorted and the combined authority will exist as an organisation, starting to recruit senior staff.
“The plan is still a May 2024 election and we will have a nine-month period where the combined authority exists in shadow form.
“It will start to draw up strategies and policies so that, when the mayor is elected, on day one they have got things to get on with.”
The combined authority will include representatives from the city and county councils as well as industry leaders in areas like transport or education.
It will also have four ‘non-constituent’ seats for the district and borough councils – split equally between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire authorities.
The elected mayor will then have oversight and control over the combined authority and will be able to set their own budget.
Cllr David Mellen (Lab), leader of Nottingham City Council, previously said the region has been left behind for “too long” and welcomed progress with devolution.
Commenting in December, he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “As the leader of Nottingham City Council, I’m interested in what we can get for the people of Nottingham and the region.
“Yes it’s not perfect, yes we’d like more money but we’re out of that stream for more money altogether at the moment so let’s get into that stream.”