Labour wins West of England metro mayor election
LABOUR'S Dan Norris has won the West of England metro mayor election.
The former government minister beat Conservative Samuel Williams by 125,482 votes to 85,389, a majority of just over 40,000 votes, after second-preference votes were counted.
Green candidate Jerome Thomas was third, with 54,919 votes, while Liberal Democrat Stephen Williams was fourth, with 39,767.
The count went to a second round after no-one received an overall majority in the first round of voting.
However Mr Norris had a lead of more than 10,500 votes after first preferences were counted, receiving 84,434 votes to Mr Williams' 73,841.
In the second round, where second preference votes from Green and Lib Dem voters were added to the front runners' totals, Mr Norris received another 41,048 votes to Mr Williams' 11,548.
Mr Norris said: “It’s a huge honour to be elected as Metro Mayor for an amazing part of the world that I am so proud to call home.
"I will show the difference an active Metro Mayor makes for our region.
“This role is about collaboration and I will be a Metro Mayor who listens carefully and works cooperatively.
"I’m determined to hit the ground running with a Jobs and Skills summit in my first 100 days and my Green Recovery Plan.
“I also know that the pandemic has been tough and as we build back, invest in jobs and our high streets, we must learn key lessons.
"Together we can create a society where we keep looking out for each other and value what’s truly important.”
Mr Norris benefited from the increased turnout in Bristol, where elections for the city council and Bristol Mayor were also taking place on Thursday, receiving more than 50,000 votes to Mr Williams' 28,000, which was behind the Greens.
And he was also just 143 votes behind the Conservative candidate in B&NES, where he was the MP for the now-abolished Wansdyke constituency from 1997 until 2010.
In South Gloucestershire Mr Williams was more than 9,000 votes ahead of Mr Norris, where they received 28,693 and 19,168 respectively.
During the campaign, Mr Norris criticised his own party’s stance on Bristol Airport’s proposed expansion and said he was opposed to the development, which will be decided by a planning inspector at a public inquiry this summer.
Among the policies in his manifesto, the new mayor has pledged to be a “jobs first” metro mayor, boosting the economy by holding a jobs summit in his first 100 days and creating 23,000 new green jobs.
Other promises include:
Create “truly liveable towns and cities with high quality and zero carbon design” and have a firm requirement for 35 per cent of all new homes to be genuinely affordable.
Intervene directly in housebuilding by doubling the current spending plans to £80 million.
Establish a Retrofit Accelerator programme, and create a Homelessness Taskforce.
Create a transport system for the 21st century, with green and reliable buses, trains, and walking and cycling options to connect our region.
Start a wide-scale transformation of our public transport network, investigating options such as mass transit and bus franchising.
Implement smart ticketing, with simple tap-in-tap-out payments, and effective advertising of cheapest fares and routes.
Oppose the expansion of Bristol Airport.
Tackle the climate emergency and protect nature by creating a £20million Green Recovery Fund, backing local producers while cutting food miles with an Eat Local campaign, and making the West of England the UK’s Bee Capital.
The overall turnout in the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) area was 36.6 per cent – higher than four years ago, when it was less than 30 per cent, and higher than the metro mayoral contests in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Tees Valley.
Mr Norris started his political career as a Bristol city councillor in the 1980s and also served on Avon County Council in the mid-90s.
As an MP he was appointed an environment minister by Gordon Brown in 2009 but left Parliament after the 2010 General Election, when he the redrawn and renamed North East Somerset seat to Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The regional mayor or metro mayor leads the West of England Combined Authority, which is responsible for strategic development of business, skills, housing and transport in the region.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service