Apologies for the delay in reporting this, but the last couple of days have been extremely busy on the site! On Monday night Parvez Akhtar was chosen to stand as Conservative candidate for the vacant post of directly-elected Mayor of Bedford at an Open Caucus meeting in the town.
I say caucus, because I have been pulled up by Douglas Carswell MP for erroneously referring to it as Primary – that's what happened in Totnes where anyone was able to vote to select the parliamentary candidate in the ballot regardless of whether or not they attended a hustings etc, whereas when attendance at a meeting like this is required, it is a caucus (I hope I've got that right Douglas!).
Anyhow, Parvez was selected by the 400-strong crowd and will fight the by-election on 15th October. Iain Dale chaired the meeting and blogged about it here – and Mike Smithson of Political Betting gave his take on the event here.
Parvez – a lifelong resident of Bedford – describes himself as "a social mobility success story inspired by the policies of Lady Thatcher" and stood for the nomination on a platform of, among other things, promising to implement "a reduction of Councillor allowances, expenses and salaries starting with myself".
He is a former association chairman, and is currently an area officer for Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire as well as being chairman of his local Parish Council.
This coming Monday, September 14th, an Open Primary meeting is being held, open to all registered electors across Bedford, to select a Conservative candidate to run at the election.
According to the website of the Bedford Conservatives, the following four candidates have been shortlisted:
Parvez Akhtar: A long standing Queens Park resident and currently serving as the chairman of the
Parish Council. An engineer by profession, Parvez is currently employed by Ford.
Cllr. Nicky Attenborough: Deputy Mayor of Bedford Borough Council and portfolio holder for Adult Services.
Nicky has been a longstanding resident of Kempston and represents Kempston East Ward.
Dr. Jason Reddy: A practising GP, Jason was recently appointed as Deputy Medical Director by NHS Bedfordshire
PCT. Jason is a resident of Putnoe.
Cllr. Tom Wootton: Formerly a Bedfordshire County Council Cabinet member, Tom now represents Roxton
Ward on Bedford Borough Council. Tom manages a working family farm.
The previous mayor, who held the post from its inception in 2002 until his death, was last returned at an election in 2007, when he beat Conservative candidate Nicky Attenborough after the redistribution of second preference votes from the other candidates.