Labour front-runner becomes first Sheffield City Region mayor

Labour’s Dan Jarvis has been elected the first Sheffield City Region mayor after a second round run-off.

In his victory speech he paid tribute to Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered by a right-wing extremist in 2016.

He said: “Across our great county we are far more united than we realise, we have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us.”

Mr Jarvis only received 47.99% of the vote in the first round, falling short of the 50% needed for a first round victory.

This meant a run-off took place between the top two candidates, Mr Jarvis and the Conservatives’ Ian Walker. The five eliminated candidates had their votes recounted with their second preference being recorded.

The finally tally was 144,154 votes for Mr Jarvis and 30,616 for Mr Walker.

Turnout for the Sheffield City Region mayoral election was 25.8%, a total of 260,260 votes cast, and was noticeably higher in Sheffield (31.56%) and Barnsley (24.99%) where there were local elections at the same time.

Doncaster and Rotherham’s turnout was 20.05% and 21.26% respectively.

Mr Jarvis has been criticised for planning on retaining Barnsley Central parliamentary seat while he is mayor.

He said: “I understood the exceptional nature of my candidacy would raise some eyebrows, and it has. But I believe that because of the exceptional circumstances of this mayoralty and the situation we face currently in the UK meant that I couldn’t stand on the side-lines.”

Mr Jarvis was the heavy favourite to win the election, the Labour Party controls all four local authorities in South Yorkshire and all 15 of the county’s parliamentary seats.

He faces a tough situation – unlike other Metro Mayors his office has no agreed powers or salary.

His first job will be to acquire some power, rather than use it.

The four councils in South Yorkshire have been unable to agree on what power they mayor should have for more than a year.

Mr Jarvis will now need to bring together Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham and get them to agree on what his new role should be.

Recognising this, he said in his victory speech: “I stand ready for the job of drawing South Yorkshire together.”

The main reason the councils can’t agree on anything is because they are divided over whether there should be a drive to establish an elected mayor for all of Yorkshire, or if South Yorkshire should stick with the deal they already have.

Doncaster and Barnsley currently back the Yorkshire-wide mayor proposal – also known as One Yorkshire – whereas Sheffield and Rotherham want to implement the Sheffield City Region deal first.

The question about One Yorkshire was a dividing line in the election. Mr Jarvis is an outspoken supporter of the idea and Jeremy Corbyn has recently backed the proposal.

The Conservative Party candidate, Ian Walker said he didn’t believe South Yorkshire should give up its new powers to all of Yorkshire, while The Green Party and Liberal Democrat candidate wouldn’t commit either way.