On a difficult day for Labour across the country unfortunately we were unable to break away from the national trend. One crumb of comfort was that Labour’s Bill Mercer, standing as an independent topped the poll in the Cowling Parish Council election. Well done Bill.
Brian McDaid came second in the Ribblesdale County Council by election polling 475 compared with Tory David Staveley’s winning total of 1537. The Lib Dems came third with 430 and the Greens got 395.
In the Penyghent District Council by election Brian polled a disappointing 103, compared with the winning Tory total of 392 and the Lib Dems who have previously done well in this predominantly rural seat, but surprisingly did not stand last time round, got 295 votes.
The county wide poll for the new Police, Fire, and Crime Commissioner proved the most interesting contest and a better reflection of how things stand across Craven. (The Ripon part of the constituency was counted in Harrogate and so it is not possible to give a separate breakdown for that area).
Overall, across North Yorkshire and York the Tory Philip Allott comfortably held the post taking a final total of 84,737 compared with our own Alison Hume’s 53,442.
In Craven on first preferences Philip Allott’ got 6,398. Alison Hume 3,229, the Independent got 1,999 and the Lib Dems came last on 1,525. Once the Lib Dems and Independents had been eliminated and their second preferences counted – Alison took a further 1,235 of these and Allott 1,012. It was a similar picture across most of North Yorkshire with Labour picking up a small majority of second preferences but not enough to erode the Tories’ strong lead on first preferences.
These are almost certainly the last elections in the current set up for local government in North Yorkshire. Within a month or two a Tory minister in Whitehall will decide how we are to be governed in future – either with the current North Yorkshire and York as two separate unitary authorities or with two unitaries splitting the county down the middle.
It could also be the this will be the last we see of elections for police, fire and crime commissioner as the prospective mayor for North Yorkshire could yet take on that role, as other mayors have done.
One interesting fact to emerge from the count was that many voters fail to appreciate how the second preference system works. So a lot of people voted for the same candidate as first and second preference meaning just their first vote counted. The only ones that made a difference were those that voted either Lib Dem or Independent in the first column and then either Labour or Conservative in the second.
A lesson to be drawn is that if we do ever move to a system of PR there is a lot of electoral education that needs to be done, if the system is to be seen to fulfil voters’ wishes.
Finally of course thanks need to be given to all those who helped in the various campaigns, especially those who delivered large quantities of leaflets and also to our candidates – especially Brian and Alison whose efforts deserved better reward.
Next year there should be a whole new round of elections and lots of work is needed in the meantime to build on the lessons learnt this spring.