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It’s been an exciting few weeks in the race to become Bristol’s next mayor, here are the top stories:

Ferguson and Rees launch their campaigns

Incumbent George Ferguson went first with an event at The Station in the city centre. He promised to introduce a new Bristol Business Advisory Board to help provide more employment and training opportunities in the poorest parts of the city, as well as promising to only introduce new residents’ parking zones in areas where the majority of residents are in favour. Read the entire report.

Marvin Rees, Labour’s mayoral candidate who also ran in 2012, followed three days later with an event at his old primary school in Shirehampton. The location is significant as Ferguson has in the past been criticised for not paying enough attention to inner-city or suburban parts of Bristol. He said he had “unfinished business” to take care of, before promising to build 800 affordable homes a year. More policy announcements are expected in the coming weeks. Read the entire report.

Lots of Labour MPs have come down to support him in recent weeks, including a number of Shadow Cabinet members, such as the Shadow Transport Secretary Lilian Greenwood whose bus was late when she got here. He did an interview with the Guardian and wrote a piece for the Bristol Wire.

There’s UKIP!

Where’s UKIP?”, I asked in December, having noticed that UKIP were still missing from the field, despite them promising us a candidate by October. So, of course, I was thrilled when last week they finally announced their candidate — Paul Turner.

Turner, 53, stood last year as UKIP’s parliamentary candidate in the Bristol West constituency,  coming 5th with just three per cent of the vote — the party’s worst performance in the Avon area1. According to Bristol 24/7, Turner is a part-time carer who is also a freelance communications adviser to small firms, and has been the treasurer of both Bristol UKIP and the Federation of Small Businesses. In a leaflet from last year’s election he stated that he grew up and went to school in Bristol and wanted the city to become “the number one business destination in the region” and that he would “work to improve vital public services.”

Speaking to Bristol 24/7, he said that he would be standing as the “common-sense candidate”, focusing on congestion and social housing, and that he wanted to build more trust in the role of mayor, accusing Ferguson of “not listening” enough.

As I wrote in my article from December, there is little chance of him winning the mayoralty, but the party could increase their number of local councillors from one, with Turner remarking that “[it] seems like there is quite strong support for Ukip across Bristol.”

Duncan Drops Out

Keen followers of US politics may have noticed that in the past few weeks a number of Republican presidential candidates, including Jeb! Bush, Chris Christie and Rand Paul, have suspended their campaigns, as has Democrat Martin O’Malley. But none of that is nearly as exciting as the news on the Bristol mayoral election front that Laurence Duncan has dropped out of the race. Duncan, an independent candidate from Avonmouth who was 100/1 on Ladbrokes to become Mayor at the time of his departure from the race, said that he lacked the funds, resources and support to effectively communicate his message. Instead, he has decided to run as an independent for the Avonmouth seat on the City Council. Berkeley Squares wishes him the best of luck.

And the others…

Some of the other candidates have also written pieces for the Bristol Wire: Conservative Charles Lucas, Lib Dem Kay Barnard, Green Tony Dyer, and Christine Townsend of Independents for Bristol.

Tony Dyer has, for some reason, risen from 50/1 to 33/1 in the latest Ladbrokes odds to become Mayor of Bristol. Our political editor can’t quite figure out why this happened. Here are the rest of the odds:

Latest odds on 2016 Mayoral Election
Candidate Odds
George Ferguson (Bristol 1st) 1/2
Marvin Rees (Labour) 2/1
Charles Lucas (Conservative) 16/1
Tony Dyer (Green) 33/1
Kay Barnard (Liberal Democrat) 100/1
Paul Turner (UKIP) 100/1
John Langley (Independent) 200/1
Paul Saville (Independent) 200/1
Christine Townsend (Independent) 200/1
Don’t understand odds?
Source: Ladbrokes, as of 22 February 2016.

  1. UKIP achieved over a tenth of the vote in all other Avon constituencies besides Bath, in which they got just 6.2 per cent.