Conservative Tim Bowles has been elected as the first Mayor for the West of England region.
He will now take control of powers and funds that are being devolved from Westminster, including an additional £30 million funding allocation each year for 30 years to be used to grow the region’s economy. He will also be ultimately responsible for spatial planning for the region (including where new homes are planned and where investment in new services is needed to support their development), adult education and skills, employment and regional transport.
Prior to his success in winning the newly created mayoralty, Mr Bowles had been a South Gloucestershire councillor, where he represented the Winterbourne ward and served on the Council committees with responsibility for allocating resources, forming policies and budgeting.
Mr Bowles’ victory was a close run thing, with neither of the leading candidates securing the 50 per cent of first choice votes required for a victory. Mr Bowles secured a total of 70,300 votes following the second preference count, compared to the 65,923 won by Labour’s candidate Lesley Ann Mansell.
Perhaps as a symptom of voter fatigue, turnout was disappointingly low at only 29.7 per cent, with 199,519 of a possible 671,280 voting.
After his victory was announced, Mr Bowles said: “From a personal perspective, I am honoured to be elected the first West of England regional mayor.
“I really look forward to working on behalf of everybody in the region to make the improvements we have all recognised throughout all of the campaign … and to make the real differences for everybody throughout the region.”
In interviews this morning, Mayor Bowles said his main focus would be on “Improving the economic growth for the region.” Within this overarching goal he highlighted the need to improve transport and “get the region moving”, the importance of providing new homes, and his desire to work with businesses to improve skills and provide jobs. He added also that he looked forward to working with Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, the Leader of South Gloucestershire Cllr Matthew Riddle and the Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Cllr Tim Warren, his new colleagues on the West of England Combined Authority.