MAYOR of Doncaster Martin Winter just held on to his position of elected mayor yesterday in the second such election to be held in the town. Emma Dunlop
Three years ago Mr Winter, the former leader of Doncaster Council, won the fight to be the town's first elected mayor, beating off his nearest rival with a comfortable 13,000 majority.
But yesterday the father-of-three only just managed to hold his position with only 8,364 votes between him and independent market trader Mick Maye.
Mr Winter failed to get a clear majority in the first round and the contest had to go to a second count before he was declared overall winner.
Accepting the position, Mr Winter told the crowd gathered for the ballot result at the Dome Leisure Centre that he was grateful for all their support.
He said: "The next four years heralds a new dawn for the people of Doncaster. A new dawn to engage in a new approach to defining Doncaster's future."
Five other candidates – Ray Bartlett, Conservative; David Owen, BNP; Richard Rolt, Green Party; Jessie Credland, Community Group; and Mick Cooper, Independent – were eliminated after the first count despite gaining more than half of all the votes cast between them.
Yesterday Mr Winter's opponent, Mr Maye, who runs a card stall on Doncaster's market, warned him he should pay heed to these voting figures.
He said: "This should serve as a slight warning that the mayoral system is not so safe and sound in Doncaster as some might wish."
Despite this he congratul-ated Mr Winter on his success and wished him all the best in his next term of office.
The Liberal Democrats decided not to field a candidate because they believe in abolishing the mayoral system, which they claim is nothing more than a "Labour dictatorship".
Last night it was widely rumoured they had helped sponsor Mr Maye to get as far as he did in the ballot in the hope of seeing him throw out the system had he been elected. But despite heckling to this effect from the Labour crowd at the count, this has never been conf-irmed one way or the other.
Mr Winter is now expected to confirm any changes he may make to his cabinet next week.
The town's ruling Labour party agreed to hold such an election, despite its initial opposition, after a referendum calling for an elected mayor three years ago. Doncaster is the only town in Yorkshire that has voted for such a change in its local government system.
Turnout at 108,943 – 50.39 per cent of the electorate of 216,215 – was up 23.32 per cent.
Martin Winter (Lab) 40,015 (36.73 per cent, -0.02 per cent)
Michael Maye (Ind Maye) 27,304 (25.06 per cent, +12.23 per cent)
Raymond Bartlett (Conservative) 12,530 (11.50 per cent, -3.89 per cent)
Ms Jessie Credland (Community Group) 10,263 (9.42 per cent, -5.06 per cent)
Michael Cooper (Ind) 7,773 (7.13 per cent)
David Owen (BNP) 6,128 (5.62 per cent)
Richard Rolt (Green) 4,930 (4.53 per cent)
Votes of eliminated Bartlett, Cooper, Credland, Owen and Rolt distributed
Martin Winter (Lab) 45,742
Michael Maye (Ind Maye) 37,308