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  • The Youth Vote UK

What mattered in the metro mayorals?

On May the 6th there were seven metro mayor elections for the following regions: Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, Cambridge & Peterborough, West of England and for the first time West Yorkshire.

Metro mayors, also known as ‘combined authority mayors’, are directly elected officials who have control over combined authorities which are regions made up of a number of local councils. Metro mayors were established in 2016 through the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act. This act aimed to devolve more powers away from Westminster and distribute them to local regions. The metro mayors have control over:

  • spatial planning

  • regional transport

  • the provision of skills training

  • business support services

  • economic development

Electoral System

Elections for mayors of combined authorities use the Supplementary Vote system (SV). This system produces a single winner. Voters are given a first and second preference choice; if one candidate receives over 50% of the first preference votes, then they are declared the winner. However, if no candidate gets over this threshold, then all but the top two candidates are eliminated, and the second preference votes are counted. The second preference votes for the top two candidates are added to their respective scores and whoever receives the most votes after this wins.


Greater Manchester

Andy Burnham (Labour and Co-operative Party) was re-elected to be the metro mayor of Greater Manchester. He received 67.3% (473,024 votes) of the vote and won off first preference votes alone.

Figure 1 Greater Manchester Metro Mayor Results Top Four Candidates, Source BBC News

Laura Evans (Conservative), Melanie Horrocks (Green Party) and Simon Lepori (Liberal Democrat) came second, third and fourth respectively.

Turnout for this election was 34% which was a 5.6% increase from 2017.

Andy Burnham was tipped to win the election as his popularity sore throughout the coronavirus pandemic due to his strong leadership. He wants the government to help him improve the North of England. In his victory speech he said his core priorities were “better jobs, better homes and better transport”.

West of England

Dan Norris (Labour) was elected the new mayor for the West of England region. Previously the seat was held by Tim Bowels (Conservative).

Dan Norris had 84,343 (33.4%) first preference votes, while Samuel Williams, the conservative candidate, had 41,048 (28.6%) first preference votes. With how the electoral system works this meant that Dan Norris and Samuel Williams would go head-to-head to see who had the most second preference votes. After adding the second preference votes Dan Norris had 124,482 (59.5%) votes whilst Samuel Williams had 85,389 (40.5%) votes.

Jerome Thomas (Green Party) came third with 54,919 (21.7%) first preference votes and Stephen Williams (Liberal Democrat) came fourth with 41,193 (16.3%) first preference votes.

The turnout was 36% which was a 6.8% gain from 2017. /§b

Tees Valley

Ben Houchen (Conservative) was re-elected Metro Mayor of the Tees Valley region. He received 121,964 (72.8%) votes whilst Jesse Jacobs (Labour) received 45,641 (27.2%) votes.

Turnout for this election was 34% which was 12.7% higher than in 2017.

Ben Houchen said that he wants to bring more jobs and investment to the Tees Valley area.

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

Nik Johnson (Labour) won the election. Previously the Metro Mayor for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough region was the conservative James Palmer, however, he narrowly came second this time around.

James Palmer had the lead after first preference votes with 93,942 (40.5%) votes with Nik Johnson receiving 76,106 (32.8%) votes whilst Aidan Van de Weyer (Liberal Democrat) received 61,885 (26.7%) votes. However, after second preference votes Nik Johnson won narrowly with 5,799 more votes than James Palmer.

Figure 2 Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Final Vote Share, Source BBC

Turnout for this election was 36% which was a 3.5% increase from 2017.

It is likely that the popularity of the Liberal Democrats in this election helped Labour win this seat from the conservatives as it seems that those who voted for the Liberal Democrat candidate likely gave their second preference to Nik Johnson over James Palmer. With the local area being dominated by not just conservative MPs but conservative councillors, Nik Johnson will have to cooperate and build consensus.

Liverpool City

Steve Rotheram (Labour) was re-elected as Mayor of the Liverpool City Region. He received a total of 198,736 (58.3%) first preference votes. Jade Marsden (Conservative) came second with 66,702 (19.6%) votes.

Figure 3 Liverpool City Region Election Results 2021, Source BBC

Turnout for this election was 30% but like the other Metro Mayor elections this saw a 3.6% increase from 2017.

West Midlands

Andy Street (Conservative) was re-elected Metro Mayor of the West Midlands region. After second preference votes, Andy Street had 314,669 (54%) votes whilst Liam Byrne (Labour) had 267,626 (46%) votes.

Figure 4 West Midlands Metro Mayor Election Results 2021, Source BBC

Turnout for this election was 31% which is a 4.9% increase from 2017.

Andy Street has named job creation as his “number one priority”. He also wishes to invest in transport and education to give people the opportunity and skills to find jobs.

West Yorkshire

This was the first election for the Metro Mayor for the West Yorkshire region. Tracy Brabin (Labour) won the seat to become the first Mayor of the region as well as the first female Metro Mayor.

Tracy Brabin received 261,170 (43.1%) first preference votes, whilst Matt Robinson (Conservative) received 176,167 (29.1%) first preference votes. Since neither candidate had more than 50% of the votes the second preference votes were added up. After this Tracy Brabin had 310,923 (59.8%) votes and Matt Robinson had 209,137 (40.2%).

Figure 5 West Yorkshire Metro Mayor Election Results 2021, Source BBC

The Turnout for this election was among the highest for the Metro Mayor elections with a 36% turnout.

One of her main priorities will be to upgrade and improve transport in the region. She has said she wants to introduce a “tap in, tap out, fare-capped scheme”.

Labour will be happy to hold a majority of the metro mayor positions with five mayors compared to the conservatives two. They will be even happier that they managed to win seats from the conservatives in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough as well as the West of England region. Typically, though Labour performs well in more urban areas which are often central to the combined authorities.

Furthermore, one major positive about these elections was the increase in turnout. Each election saw an increase from 2017 which is great for democracy. Although turnout is still fairly low with an average of 33.8% it is positive to see an increase in all areas. All elections also had a turnout of at least 30%.

Jonas Volkwein, Head of Policy & News

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