Video: 25 candidates may stand in race for Bristol mayor
VOTERS could have as many as 25 candidates to choose between when Bristol goes to the polls to choose a mayor.
The large number of candidates is one of the factors pushing the bill for the city's first ever direct mayoral election towards the £720,000 mark.
Details of the scale of the biggest single poll in Bristol's history were revealed as the front-runner for the election, Labour's Marvin Rees, launched his campaign with a pledge to build a long-awaited arena in the city centre – and help Bristol's two Football League clubs build new stadiums.
So far 12 people have publicly declared an intention to run for mayor.
17th Edition 8 way fuse boards prevent fires & improve electrical safety. Save £28 on 8 way fuse boards for a limited time only with A & D Electrical.
Terms: Bristol and Bath areas.
Contact: 0117 2448240
Valid until: Monday, May 20 2013
But a spokesman for the city council said yesterday that 13 more potential candidates had made enquiries. The final number of contenders will only be known at the close of nominations, which open on October 9, for 10 days.
Yesterday Labour's mayoral candidate Marvin Rees, who is the bookies' favourite to win the election, officially launched his campaign.
Mr Rees, 40, pictured, said he would commit himself to the building of an arena in a central city area to host cultural, musical and other large events.
He said: "For too long, Bristol has been left behind by other forward thinking cities and we have seen attempts to bring events and conferences to Bristol slip away.
"An iconic, accessible arena will be a boost to the Bristol economy.
"We have to be aspirational to reach global markets, grow the Bristol economy and bring jobs to the city."
Speaking about new stadiums for City and Rovers, Mr Rees said: "If elected, I will use the powers of the mayor's office to push through the building of Premier League stadiums for these clubs. It is time for 'can do' thinking. Premier League football facilities are a component of a successful city."
Mr Rees said city authorities all over the world have backed iconic, viable sporting and cultural amenities.
"But here in Bristol, we seem stuck in circular arguments," he said.
"Members of the Bristol public have looked on, bemused, as time after time the new facilities we need have failed to materialise.
"The mayor must give a lead to make sure real change happens. All these facilities have been planned and costed and are viable – they just need leadership and political will."
Bristol City's hopes of a new £92 million stadium at Ashton Vale have been dogged by a dispute and legal wrangling for several years.
Bristol Rovers have won planning permission to go ahead with their new £40 million stadium on Bristol UWE land near the MoD procurement base at Abbeywood.
But construction work cannot go ahead unless permission is granted for a supermarket to be built at the club's current ground in Horfield.
Councillors are expected to consider the scheme in October.
Mr Rees said: "The football stadiums have been stalled and denied unnecessarily for long enough.
"We just need some political will to make these stadiums happen and to ensure we get past planning delays."
Other candidates in the election have also backed the arena and new homes for Rovers and City.
Independent George Ferguson said: "I welcome Marvin's support for my initiative. I have been advocating a city-centre arena as an essential part of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone."
He said he was "strongly in favour" of both stadium plans.
Liberal Democrat Jon Rogers said: "I want to see two world class stadiums and an arena in Bristol. They will bring investment, jobs and raise the city profile."
Independent Eric Mutch said: "Having an arena of national importance would be brilliant in Bristol.
"There are tricky issues to do with moving football stadiums."
Conservative Geoff Gollop said: "It's a disgrace we have not got an arena – we are one of few major UK cities which doesn't have that level of venue.Bristol needs quality sporting venues. "
Green Daniella Radice said: "I recognise that Bristol needs new football stadia but it is time for a more imaginative response to the issue. Why can't the teams pool resources and share a ground?
"I also support building a new arena. "
Independent Tim Collins said: "I support both clubs' applications for new stadiums. With the arena at Temple Quarter, I would like to see a new ice skating venue incorporated into the plans."
Respect candidate Neil Maggs said: "I am totally, 100 per cent in favour of an arena at the site next to Temple Meads.
"In terms of the football, I support Rovers' application but I would object to a City stadium in Ashton Vale, which should have protected green status."
The council expects a 40 to 60 per cent turnout for the mayoral election on November 15.
More than 500 staff will be hired for the election count, which will take place on the day after voting, outside the city boundary at the vast UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre on the university's Frenchay campus. Another 500 staff will be hired to help count votes for the Avon and Somerset police commissioner election, at the same venue and time.
The council says the cost of staging the election and count will be about £600,000 – plus another £120,000 to pay for a booklet detailing the election and the candidates, which it is required to produce by law.
Stephen McNamara, the council's head of legal services who will act as returning officer, said: "The size of this election is vast."
Returning officer Stephen McNamara explains to This is Bristol how the new electoral system will work, and what a large field of candidates could mean for the election process...