It’s a big YES for an elected mayor in Doncaster

Doncaster: Elected Mayor Peter Davies.
Doncaster: Elected Mayor Peter Davies.
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Doncaster has bucked the national trend by voting to have another elected mayor next year - after a huge majority indicated they liked the present system.

The current Mayor, Peter Davies, later confirmed he will put himself forward for election again next May when his four-year term of office expires.

His English Democrat supporters were delighted by the big ‘yes’ vote in Thursday’s referendum. Doncaster was one of the few places in England and Wales to vote in favour of having an elected mayor.

Neighbouring Sheffield voted against introducing the system.

The result, declared just after 2.30pm, saw more than 60 per cent of voters deciding to stick with the current arrangements.

Mr Davies said he was ‘delighted’ by the result.

“I just think this puts Doncaster in a better position to move forward,” he said. “It gives us a golden opportunity for Doncaster to become the leading town in South Yorkshire with Sheffield voting against having a mayor.”

The 64-year-old added: “If everything is all well and good I will definitely be standing for election next year but, at my age, you never know what’s round the corner.”

The vote in favour of the Mayoral system was 42,196 - with 25,879 in favour of returning to having a council leader in charge of the borough.

The result was not a surprise for Labour but outgoing leader Sandra Holland expressed her personal disappointment.

She will hope the gains made by her party in the council ward elections will translate into a second Labour Mayor being elected in 2013.

Martin Winter was the first and won two terms, but did not stand for a third in 2009 and Peter Davies was the surprise victor last time.

He did not attend yesterday’s referendum count because he was attending a function at Windsor Castle, but later tweeted that it was ‘a great result’.

Coun Holland said: “People had the choice and I am pleased they had that opportunity because we promised a referendum and we delivered on that promise.

“It’s quite a clear decision and we respect that, and now need to move forward together for the good of Doncaster.

“I believe having a leader is more democratic because we now have 50 councillors but we don’t have a say in anything.

“A leader would have the same powers as an elected mayor but it costs £400,000 for a mayoral election and that money could be spent on frontline services.”

Roy Penketh, campaign co-ordinator for the English Democrats, said: “This shows this is the system the people of Doncaster want.

“The Mayor has proved himself, he’s done a good job and the voting figures speak for that.”

Mr Penketh said he expected Mr Davies would want to stand again and he thought it would be a two-way fight between him the Labour candidate.

“Who knows what will happen, but we have a fighting chance. We’re going from strength to strength.

“Our percentage of the vote has gone up and I think Peter Davies’ personal popularity will be one of the main things next May.”

Doncaster Council’s chief executive and Returning Officer, Jo Miller, said: “The referendum has now settled the question of Doncaster’s future political governance, which is good.

“Now this is settled, it’s all about the council and its partners working together for the best of our town and its people. I know we can do that, and do it well.”