New mayor vows to “bring York and North Yorkshire together to grow as one”

David Skaith, the Labour Party candidate, celebrating after being elected as the first ever mayor for York and North Yorkshire. He will start in the role on Tuesday next week to bring wide-ranging benefits to the region.

Businessman David Skaith has pledged to “bring York and North Yorkshire together to grow as one” after sweeping to victory as the first mayor of a traditionally Conservative-dominated region.

After weeks of speculation that the contest to become the chair of the area’s first combined authority would be closely fought, the declaration at Harrogate Convention Centre saw Labour supporters roar with delight as it emerged Mr Skaith had overcome his Conservative rival, Keane Duncan, by almost 15,000 votes.

The married father-of-two said as someone who grew up and works in the area winning the election had meant a lot to him.

Mr Skaith said his first priority would be to “get the right team in place and setting the agenda early on”.

He added: “This is a brand new combined authority so we haven’t got anything already to build on from. We will not be jumping into crazy big spending plans.”

While Mr Duncan received about 3,600 more votes than Mr Skaith in North Yorkshire, when the county’s vote was combined with that from York, the Labour candidate’s margin of victory was by almost 15,000 votes.

Liberal Democrat Felicity Cunliffe-Lister secured 30,867 votes, Mr Duncan 51,967, Green Party candidate Kevin Foster 15,188, Independent Paul Haslam 12,370, Mr Skaith 66,761 and Independent Keith Tordoff 13,250.

The election which saw 191,279 out of the 640,012 electorate vote.

Ahead of the result being announced a hush descended over Harrogate Convention Centre, as the returning officer, North Yorkshire Council’s chief executive, Richard Flinton, ushered the six candidates into a room to tell them the outcome of the poll.

While Mr Skaith had been tipped to pip his Conservative rival to the post, unusually, even minutes before the declaration, the hundreds of political activists, local government officers and journalists in the room remained unaware who had secured the mayoralty.

Declining to answer whether he attached any blame on the direction Rishi Sunak was taking the Conservative Party, Mr Duncan replied: “Democracy is a wonderful thing, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”

He added he was “very disappointed” with the result, but very proud of his campaign.

When asked what he thought had gone wrong with his campaign, he said: “We always knew this was going to be tough. Obviously we won in North Yorkshire, I’m very pleased about that, but it was to be expected we didn’t win in York.

“I think we’re up against a really difficult national picture, but this election for me was always about York and North Yorkshire.”

Over his four-year term, Mr Skaith will lead investment of at least £540 million to be spent over the next 30 years as well as taking on the role and responsibilities of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

As chair of the Combined Authority, he will work alongside leaders of Conservative-led North Yorkshire Council and Labour-led City of York Council to create and deliver on shared, long-term visions for the region.

Green Party candidate Kevin Foster said his campaign had been well received on the doorsteps of North Yorkshire and York, adding as Labour had taken up some of his party’s policies “that’s where our victory comes from”.

Mrs Cunliffe-Lister said while she had limited resources for the election campaign, she had attended a market day at every market town in the region, but had been prevented from having a stall by the council due to electoral rules.

She said: “I have been the only candidate to attend all 17 hustings events. It’s been exhausting, and when you don’t represent a major party you are effectively doing it all pretty much on your own and relying on grassroots volunteers.”

2 Comments

  1. It’s shocking that more than two thirds of those entitled to vote didn’t bother. Now they need to remember that they have no right to criticize the actions of the successful candidate.

  2. Well done David.
    All we need to do now is win the General Election and get this Country sorted out.

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