‘Socialist is a label I’m proud to wear’, said Labour’s Jamie Driscoll as he was elected the first North of Tyne Mayor this afternoon.
The finale of the election saw the Momentum-backed candidate go head-to-head with the Conservative Charlie Hoult in a bid to lead the combined authority, made up of Northumberland County Council, North Tyneside Council and Newcastle City Council,
Voters were able to select a first and second-preference candidate and after the first round, Mr Driscoll had 62,034 votes (34%), while Mr Hoult had 45,494 (25%).
The other three candidates were eliminated at this point – John McCabe (Independent) – 31,507; John Appleby (Lib Dem) – 23,768; Hugh Jackson (Ukip) – 20,131 – and the second preferences were used to decide the winner.
Both received a similar number of second preferential votes, but the gap remained consistent – Mr Driscoll ended up with 76,862 votes and Mr Hoult 60,089.
Mr Driscoll used his victory speech to declare his success as a rejection of the status quo and the policies of the Conservative Government, while promising to deliver on his manifesto.
His five key pledges are:
Keeping money in our region – through community wealth building, supporting small and worker-owned business and setting up a people’s bank;
A Green Industrial Revolution, through declaring a climate-change emergency, creating a community-owned green energy company, improving bus and rail services including joint ticketing, and tackling food waste and food poverty;
Community hubs to revitalise local life;
Building affordable homes to provide secure places to live;
Meaningful adult education to enable lifelong learning.
Runner-up Mr Hoult said he was proud to have taken the poll into a second-round run-off.
“We bucked the national trend for sure,” he added. “Thank you for an incredible 60,089 votes – and for the kind words from most of my fellow candidates. Here’s to a more positive vision for a truly great north.”
Momentum’s spokesman for the North East, John Taylor, said: “Devastated by Thatcherism and blighted by austerity, for decades the North East has been held back by Tory rule.
“By electing Momentum member Jamie Driscoll as the region’s first mayor, the people of the North East have rejected the economic orthodoxy of the past 40 years and taken back power for their communities.
“From building good, affordable homes to creating a people’s bank and highly paid, unionised green jobs, Jamie will deliver a transformative, socialist agenda for the North East and we look forward to supporting him as mayor.”
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “We offer our congratulations to Jamie Driscoll on being elected mayor for the North of Tyne area. This role is extremely important for the economic development of our region as well as Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle.
“We look forward to working with him to ensure the business community is an influential voice on his future plans and is able to contribute fully to his work on growing the North East’s economy.”
Sarah Glendinning, CBI North East director, added: “We look forward to working closely with Jamie Driscoll to create more jobs and investment in the region.
“Now is the time to hit the ground running and start delivering on the needs of business and the wider community across the North of Tyne.
“Business has three priorities for the incoming mayor; improving skills, upgrading creaking infrastructure and delivering a successful Local Industrial Strategy.
“The CBI will work with the Mayor to represent the region as a whole, providing a strong voice here, in Westminster and overseas.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service