Tory Mayor elected for the West of England

Tim Bowles

Tim Bowles

Conservative Tim Bowles has been elected as the first Mayor for the West of England Combined Authority following yesterday’s election. He beat Labour’s Lesley Mansell by 4,377 votes.

Bowles, a South Glos councillor for Winterbourne, won the first preference votes with 53,796 votes. Mansell got 43,627 and Lib Dem Stephen Williams, who had gone into the race as the front-runner, received 39,794.

Fourth in the first round was the Independent John Savage (29,500), Green candidate Darren Hall was fifth with 22,054 and UKIP’s Aaron Foot was last with 8,182.

As no candidate had more than 50% of the valid first choice vote, the two candidates with the most first choice votes remained in the election and all the others were eliminated. The total number of valid second preference votes cast for Mansell was 22,296 and 16,504 for Bowles.

In the breakdown of votes for each of three local authority areas that make up the West of England Combined Authority, Bowles was the easy winner in South Gloucestershire, with 22,547 votes, while Independent candidate John Savage clearly impressed voters in the district as he came second with 9,503, ahead of both Williams and Mansell.

Lesley Mansell

Lesley Mansell

Bowles was also the favourite in B&NES, taking 13,103 votes. Williams was second with 10,021 and Mansell third with 6,137.

But in Bristol Mansell was the clear favourite, winning 29,676 votes. Williams was second with 20,675 and Bowles was knocked into third place with just over 18,000 votes.

Turnout across the authority area – South Glos, Bristol and B&NES – was 29.72%.

The total number of ballot papers verified was 199,519 but 2,572 ballot papers were rejected. Of those, 1,347 voted for more than one candidate as to the first preference vote.

The results can be seen in full here.

The new Mayor will have powers over spending, previously held by central government, on the region’s transport, housing, adult education and skills.

In his acceptance speech, Tim Bowles said he was honoured to have been elected and was looking forward to working on behalf of everyone in the region.

He has said that he sees the role of Mayor as driving the economy and his initial priorities include producing a clear strategy to boost economic growth and prosperity for locals, developing long-term solutions for the region’s transport and housing needs, attracting new businesses and supporting existing ones to provide opportunities throughout the region and improving higher education.

Lesley Mansell said today: “We have achieved a remarkable result here in the West of England and that acts as a beacon of hope for the rest of the country…. we have shown that people are crying out for an alternative to austerity.”

She said that during the course of the campaign she had seen what a united Labour Party can achieve: “Although we didn’t win, I’m confident we can win next month in Bristol and beyond because have some great candidates.”