BRADFORD has voted against an elected mayor system for the city, despite a concerted campaign by new MP George Galloway.
The poll, finally announced at 6.30am after a long council election count, was the closest of the four Yorkshire referenda with 53.2 per cent of voters saying No, and 43.3 per cent saying Yes.
The actually figures were 66,283 against, 53,949 in favour, and 4,314 ballot papers rejected. The turnout was 37 per cent.
Simon Cooke, deputy leader of the Tories and supporter of elected mayors, claimed the “Galloway factor” had put many voters off the idea, and criticised his own party for failing to launch a national campaign in support of the policy.
“I am disappointed, but a lot of this was to do with the George Galloway factor,” he said. “It may have played well in some of the inner city areas, but everyone I spoke to in the villages just said we don’t want that man running Bradford.
“The other reason was that too many people just didn’t understand it, and if I was to criticise my own party, the mistake was not to have a full national campaign behind mayors. I would have happily volunteered, but because of the timing I had a council election campaign to run.”
Coun Cooke pointed to the result in Doncaster – where residents voted to keep the system – as an example of the impact it can have.
“For all the things that people say about Doncaster, they have voted for it and the people there must like the system,” he said.
The Respect Party had campaigned hard to win a Yes vote.
Spokesman Ron McKay said: “Obviously we were disappointed by the mayor referendum, but it does allow us to focus on the council and the constituency.
“If there had been a Yes vote we would have been doing a lot of campaigning, now we’re gunning for a council that we think is incompetent and has let Bradford down.”