Conservatives narrowly win Croydon’s first ever mayoral vote over Labour

After numerous recounts and the allocation of second preference votes, the Conservative’s mayoral candidate Jason Perry narrowly beat Labour’s Val Shawcross to become Croydon’s first ever mayor.

It was a night filled with endless recounting, delays and groans from tired counters – but finally, Perry was announced Croydon’s mayor after beating Shawcross by just 589 votes.

The first count of the votes revealed Perry gained the most with 33,413 votes, Shawcross was second with 31,352 and in third was the Liberal Democrat’s Richard Michael Howard with 9967.

However, no one had a 50% majority so that meant the second preference votes from all the other candidates bar Perry and Shawcross were transferred to their total in order to find a winner.

Shawcross received more of the second preference votes, gaining 6,671 votes compared to Perry’s 5,199, but it wasn’t enough.

The Conservative candidate won with 38,612 votes compared to Shawcross’ 38,023.

A tearful Perry said: “We said all along that Croydon wanted change, I believe that Croydon has voted for change and I very much intend to deliver that change that Croydon needs.

“There is hope in our borough, there are great communities in our borough, we can restore faith and pride in our borough and I believe we can do that together.

“Together we are so much stronger, together we can put Croydon back on the right path, together this is a fresh start for Croydon and that fresh start starts now.”

Despite the cost of living crisis and Partygate heavily affecting the Conservatives throughout London in these set of council elections, it wasn’t enough to deter Croydon’s voters who clearly felt they could not trust another Labour administration after their recent financial struggles.

With the prior Labour run Croydon Council virtually declaring bankruptcy in November 2020 and being responsible for numerous social housing scandals, such as at Regina Road, Croydon voters felt local issues directly impacting Croydon were more important than any national message.

Elsewhere in the vote, the independent Andrew Pelling who had previously jumped from the Conservatives to Labour was fourth with 6807 votes and Peter Underwood of the Green Party was fifth with 6193 votes.

Farah London from the Taking The Initiative Party came sixth with 5,768 votes and the two independent candidates Winston McKenzie and Gavin Palmer came seventh and eighth with 1,324 votes and 1,114 votes respectively.

With such huge delays on the night to the mayoral count, the returning officer and chief executive of Croydon Council, Katherine Kerswell, announced the council count was being postponed until Saturday evening to then continue Sunday at 1pm.

The voter turnout for this election was 35% with 97,457 people voting out of a possible 280,960.

This was a 3.1% decrease in turnout from the 2018 council elections.

When asked about the drop in voter turnout, Pelling said: “People who would normally vote Labour or Conservative, because of national troubles, felt that they couldn’t vote.

“In the end, this election has been about – are you more angry with the Labour Council for their bad performance or more angry with some of the things that have been going on in Westminster?”

The decision to switch to a directly elected mayoral system was made in a referendum in October, which had a 21% voter turnout.

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