Sunday 23rd June 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

Mayoral Elections: NYE Electoral Analysis

by TIM HICKS

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The Result

The election for the first York & North Yorkshire Mayor took place on Thursday 2nd May 2024. The results are shown below:

About 29% of the total electorate voted.

David Skaith (shown in the lead illustration) is therefore duly elected as Mayor for York and North Yorkshire. He will take over the duties of the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner from Mrs Zoe Metcalfe, who was the successful Conservative Candidate in 25th November 2021 election for Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner (see table below). He can appoint a Deputy Mayor to take over responsibility for this role.

Analysis of the Election Result

This was a big surprise and a major success for the Labour Party. The Conservatives were expected to win the election. North Yorkshire was always seen as a Conservative Party fiefdom. Now it isn’t. The Conservatives were decisively defeated. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is now represented by a Labour Mayor.

The Labour victory is even more remarkable, given that the Conservative candidate emphasized large projects that were designed to appeal to voters. These included free parking, improved bus services, facial recognition CCTV in York, Harrogate and Scarborough, and renovating Scarborough’s Grand Hotel. Quoted in the BBC, the Conservative Candidate Keane Duncan – who toured North Yorkshire in a Camper Van – said:

“Inevitably, I’m very disappointed, as you can imagine but we fought a fantastic campaign and reached corners of the county I never knew existed.”

This was a result of a number of factors and cannot be solely explained by the national swing against the Conservatives. These additional factors are:

  • The Conservatives narrowly held North Yorkshire with a lead over Labour of 3,672 but lost in York, where Labour had a decisive lead of 18,466. Source: Wikipedia York and North Yorkshire Mayoral Election.
  • The Labour Campaign was more traditional and avoided commitments to spending, which went down better with the electorate.
  • There was a much bigger turnout in the 2024 election (figures shown below) than in the 2021 election for Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner and the Labour Party was more successful in mobilizing its supporters than the Conservatives. Because its campaign was centered around York, it had less area to cover and was therefore more concentrated and easier to organise. So it was able to exploit its Labour voting heartland in York very effectively.

  • The Lib Dem candidate Felicity Cunliffe-Lister was very much more successful than the 2021 Lib Dem candidate and obtained 30,567 The two independent candidates attracted 25,620 votes between them and the Green candidate got 15,188 votes. These four candidates had less impact in York, so their combined total of 71,375 voters were probably mainly disaffected Conservative voters from the Tory heartlands in North Yorkshire.

 

  • There was a public dispute between the Conservative Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcafe – who had failed to obtain the nomination of her party to be the Conservative Candidate for the election – and the Conservatives preferred candidate, Keane Duncan. Commissioner Metcalfe posted correspondence that was critical of Mr Duncan on the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner’s website. Voters do not like divided parties and to some extent, Commissioner Metcalfe’s actions may have undermined Mr Duncan.

 

The wider long-term issue for the Conservatives is that it appears the the Labour vote in York will overwhelm the primarily rural Conservative vote in North Yorkshire. If this is so, then it will end years of Conservative dominance and make York & North Yorkshire a Labour stronghold.

 

 

The New Mayor for York and North Yorkshire

 

The New Mayor for York and North Yorkshire is David Skaith (38) from Harrogate. He is married with two children. He studied sport at York St John’s University, trained as a teacher and then ran a small menswear business in York where he served as Chair of the York High Street Forum. He unsuccessfully stood to be a Councillor in York in May 2023.

 

Quoted in the BBC, Mayor Skaith has confirmed that coastal areas are a high priorty for him:

“We know we have great difficulties in transport connections.

 We need to be investing on the coast, we need to be building affordable homes, and getting that connectivity so people can move between Scarborough and York, we need to make it joined up.”

 

 

The Deputy Mayor for York and North Yorkshire

 

On  7th May 2024, the roles and responsibilities of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner were transferred to the York & North Yorkshire Mayor and the Office of the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner will become part of the York & North Yorkshire Combined Authority. It will be renamed the York & North Yorkshire Office for Policing, Fire, Crime and Commissioning (OPFCC).

 

The telephone number 01423 569 562, e mail: info@northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk and website for the OPFCC will remain the same: https://www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/. It will continue to be based at Harrogate Police Station.

Mayor Skaith has authority to appoint a Deputy Mayor to take over the responsibilities previously allocated to the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire. The role of Deputy Mayor is arguably more important than that of the Mayor, because it controls policing in the county. It is also more controversial, with the incumbent having to respond to events arising from policing incidents and failures.

The role of Deputy Mayor is arguably more important than that of the Mayor, because it controls policing in the county. It is also more controversial, with the incumbent having to respond to events arising from policing incidents and failures.

The OPFCC will present similar cultural problems for the new Deputy Mayor that it presented to Commissioner Metcalfe and her predecessors, which they all failed to confront. It is overmanned, completely focused on developing PR opportunities for the Commissioner to further his/her party-political career and blindly supports the Police. It is also dominated by its Chief Executive, resents public scrutiny and any form of criticism and does not understand the role of the media.

As of close of play on 8th May, Mayor Skaith has not appointed a Deputy Mayor or declared his intention to appoint one. However, there is an invitation on the OPFCC website to observe Mayor Skaith holding the Chief Constable to account:

“…our elected Mayor David Skaith, can ask questions on your behalf in their next Online Public Meeting with the Chief Constable or Chief Fire Officer. 

These meetings are streamed LIVE on a regular basis and cover the topics you said you wanted to hear.”

This leads me to conclude that Mayor Skaith intends to perform the duties formerly undertaken by the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, in addition to his duties as Mayor.

We shall see . . .

 

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