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The West of England Mayoral Election: A Breakdown

The election for the mayor of the West of England will take place on the 6th May 2021. The elected mayor will become the chair of the West of England Combined Authority, one of several devolved governmental bodies across England, granted powers in 2016 by the central government.

The Mayor of the West of England

The electorate who can vote for the candidates for Mayor of the West of England are those who live in several regions in the South, which are: Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The mayor and West of England Combined Authority receive £30 million a year from the government in funding to invest in projects for the region. The mayor, as head of the Combined Authority, is responsible for several policy areas in the region, such as:

  • Local transport.

  • Housing and planning.

  • Adult education and skills.

  • Business infrastructure – such as grants for business who employ apprentices.

So far in 2021 the incumbent Mayor of the West of Engalnd, Tim Bowles, has secured the expansion of the West of England’s e-scooter trails, and has set out plans to transform the region’s transport system in terms of more rail routes and train stations. As Mayor he has also introduced the Future Bright scheme, designed to help families improve their career prospects and employability, and supported businesses through the West of England Growth Hub and the Invest Bristol and Bath team during the pandemic.

Figure 1: The current Mayor for the West of England: Tim Bowles (Conservative)

Electoral System

As with other mayoral elections, the system used to elect Liverpool’s new mayor will be the Supplementary Vote (SV) system, which involves choosing a first choice and second choice candidate on your ballot paper. If a candidate receives over 50% of the vote, they are elected Mayor, however if no candidate receives a clear majority the election comes down to the top two candidates. Voters’ second preference votes are then added to the top two candidates’ vote shares to decide a clear winner.

The 2017 Election

Figure 2: 2017 West of England Mayoral election results (BBC News)

2017 was the first election of this kind, whereby people could directly elect a mayor to lead the West of England Combined Authority. Tim Bowles (Conservative) won in this election in the second round against Lesley Mansell (Labour), due to there being no candidate securing 50% of votes in the first round. Turnout was fairly low for this election, at 29.3%.

2021 Candidates

Dan Norris (Labour Party) was a Labour MP for Wansdyke from 1997 until the seat was abolished in 2010. Having grown up in the region and had several jobs, Norris believes he is best suited to the role of Metro mayor. He is standing for the following:

  • The creation and protection of jobs, as well as better pay and skills training.

  • Improving transport and congestion, while tackling the climate emergency.

  • Global recognition for the area for – reducing animal cruelty, tackling homelessness.

Samuel Williams (Conservatives). Current Metro mayor, Tim Bowles, is set to stand down after one term, and the Conservative party has confirmed Samuel Williams, charity campaigner and communication specialist, as their candidate for the 2021 election. He believes his extensive business knowledge will help in rebuilding business infrastructure in the area after the pandemic. He is campaigning for:

  • Cutting CO2 emissions.

  • A better transport system, and less congestion.

  • Transport infrastructuremore train stations in towns and villages.

  • Support for businesses, charities and community groups.

  • Training opportunities for all ages.

Stephen Williams (Liberal Democrats) was MP for Bristol West from 2005 to 2015, as well as a minister for communities and local government under the coalition government. He is yet to announce the policies he will be advocating for, however he has announced he has a “clear vision of how to guide the West forwards” from Brexit, coronavirus, and climate change.

Jerome Thomas (Green) is a Green Party councillor at Bristol City Council. Thomas will be advocating for greener policies, such as:

  • “Green”, well-paying jobs.

  • Affordable, warm housing.

  • Greener transport and tackling congestion issues.

Register to vote here:

Fran Robson, Policy and News Analysis Associate.

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