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Conservatives lose two combined authority mayors

Words: Laura Edgar
Election results / iStock_62097636

The Conservative Party lost two combined authority mayoral seats to the Labour Party, with Labour MP Tracy Brabin winning the first election for the Mayor of West Yorkshire.

Labour lost 326 councillors and eight councils in the English local elections, while the Conservatives gained 235 councillors and 13 councils.

Labour, however, took two mayoral roles from the Conservatives, and won the first election to take place in the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the devolution deal for which was signed in February this year. 

Candidates either won after counting voters’ first preference; if not, the top two candidates went through to a second round, where second preferences were counted.

The winning candidates for mayor of a combined authority:


Cambridgeshire & Peterborough – Nik Johnson, Labour. Johnson won the role from James Palmer, Conservative.

Palmer won the first round with a 40.50 per cent share of the vote, but he did not have a majority. He lost out in the second round of the supplementary vote system to the paediatrician. After the two rounds Johnson totalled 113,994 votes, while Palmer secured 108,195.

Johnson told the BBC that he is unlikely to support two of Palmer's policies – the plans for a metro system through Cambridge and the building of more £100,000 homes.

In a statement, Johnson said he wants to run the combined authority with “compassion, cooperation and community”.

“We have huge opportunities ahead post-pandemic with a focus on public health. There is also great innovation across the region, strong support for businesses, an appetite for tackling climate change, a drive for a workable transport system and a mandate for building affordable, sustainable homes. We can only do this by engaging and listening to the rich diverse experience of those communities across the region. I am certain that by doing so my agenda and policies will be built on the strength of cooperation, and we can get on and work for all.”

Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Labour, retained the role of mayor.

Elected in 2017, Burnham won after the first round of counting with 67.3 per cent of the vote. Speaking after his victory, he said his three priorities were “better jobs, better homes and better transport”. He also called on the government to “level up” in the north of England.

“Where the government gets it right and treats us fairly I will work with them, but where they don't I will challenge them as forcefully as I can,” he said.

Burnham’s manifesto sets out the case for the further devolution of powers, including giving more control over running railway stations and the powers to suspend right-to-buy until more council housing stock becomes available. Its transport pledges build on existing commitments, such as bringing Greater Manchester’s bus network back under public control.

The mayor wants to introduce a clean air zone and deliver 50,000 affordable homes, including 30,000 zero-carbon homes for social rent.

Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, Labour, retained the role of mayor.

Rotheram won after the first preference votes were counted with 58.3 per cent. He described his win as a “massive vote of confidence in the power of devolution and the work I've done so far”. He was first elected mayor in 2017.

Priorities for his second term as mayor include: building a fully integrated “London-style” transport system; driving through the next stage of the Mersey Tidal Power project; developing a ‘Good Homes Standard’; and making sure that unemployed people under 25 will be given mentoring, independent careers advice and support to apply for work.

London, Sadiq Khan, Labour, won a second term.

Khan won 40 per cent of the first preference vote and 69.5 per cent of the second preference vote, giving him 55.2 per cent overall, compared with 44.8 per cent overall for his closest rival Shaun Bailey, who represented the Conservative Party.

The former MP for Tooting became the first Muslim mayor of an EU capital city when he was elected to the role in 2016.

Khan said: “Economic inequality is getting worse both within London and in different parts of our country.

“As we seek to confront the enormity of the challenge ahead, and as we endeavour to rebuild from this pandemic, we must use this moment of national recovery to heal those damaging divisions.”

During his second term, Khan wants to: make commuting more affordable; tackle the capital’s toxic air; build new council and social rent homes; and be tough on crime.

Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, Conservative, retained his role as mayor.

Houchen, who has been mayor since 2017 and the establishment of the combined authority, won 72.8 per cent of the first preference vote, beating Labour’s Jessie Joe Jacobs, the only other candidate.

Houchen wants to bring “attractive jobs and investment” to the region.

His ongoing priorities include securing a low-cost carrier for Teesside Airport and increasing the number of jobs in the area and supporting small and medium-sized companies.

West Midlands, Andy Street, Conservative, won a second term as mayor.

Street won after the second preference votes were taken into consideration, securing 54 per cent of the vote overall and beating closest rival Liam Byrne of the Labour Party.

His “single biggest priority” is creating jobs. Street wants to bring more power to the region, particularly in the area of skills and training, to link with the new job opportunities.

Street is seeking to: secure an electric battery gigafactory for the region; double transport spending in the region; agree a programme of segregated cycle routes; champion the green belt and green spaces; deliver an affordable housing deal; and launch a mass programme of retrofitting people’s homes with energy-efficiency measures.

West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, Labour won the first election for the combined authority.

Her election will trigger a by-election for her Batley and Spen Westminster seat.

After the first and second preference votes were counted, Brabin had 59.8 per cent of the vote, compared with the Conservative candidate Matt Robinson, who had a 40.2 per cent share. She said: “It is an honour I cannot put into words.”

Brabin has pledged to: build 5,000 sustainable homes; bring buses back under public control and make them greener; accelerate investment in hard flood defences and natural flood management; and support projects to develop a hydrogen economy which could provide zero-carbon solutions for heavy vehicles and heating.

West of England, Dan Norris, Labour, took the seat from Tim Bowles, Conservative.

Norris secured 33.4 per cent of the first preference vote and 76 per cent of the second, giving him a 59.5 per cent share overall. His closest rival was Conservative candidate Samuel Williams with 40.5 per cent of the overall vote.

Norris was a Somerset MP from 1997 to 2010. He said some of his priorities over his four-year term would include launching a new public transport system, housing and the environment.

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