George Ferguson is Bristol mayor

16 11 2012

George Ferguson is Bristol’s first elected mayor, confounding many predictions by triumphing against the odds as an independent candidate with a grass roots campaign against well-organised party machines. The architect and businessman won 37,353 votes and runner-up Marvin Rees 31,259, after second preference votes were counted.

“This is a victory for Bristol,” Ferguson said after being declared the winner. “I feel totally honoured and humbled but it’s a hard task ahead.”

When he sits behind his desk on Monday morning at the Council House (soon to be renamed City Hall), Ferguson’s first task as mayor will be to work out how to make almost £25 million in council cuts. He confirmed this afternoon that he wants to be paid his own salary of £65,000 in Bristol Pounds.

Ferguson won 37 per cent of the first preference votes, with Rees winning 29 per cent. That was a difference of some 8,000 votes that Rees was unable to overtake once the second preference votes of the 13 eliminated candidates had been redistributed.

The victory for the independent candidate was matched in the election for Avon and Somerset Police & Crime Commissioner, as Sue Mountstevens was victorious in a contest somewhat overshadowed by the Bristol mayor vote.

So who is Bristol’s first elected mayor? Well-known for wearing his distinctive red trousers, 65-year-old Ferguson is the co-founder and chairman of Ferguson Mann Architects and lives on the top floor of the Tobacco Factory in Southville, which he helped to save from demolition.

Other business interests include the Bristol Beer Factory and Bristol Ferry Boat Company. The former Liberal councillor and High Sheriff of Bristol has pledged to resign his membership of the Society of Merchant Venturers once sworn in as mayor.

In the UK’s only vote for an elected mayor yesterday, the turnout was 27.92 per cent, only fractionally higher than the turnout for the referendum in May which paved the way for this election.

90,273 votes were cast across Bristol out of a possible 323,310.

Ferguson’s win was helped by the low turnout across the city but higher turnout in affluent areas such as Henleaze (42.64%) and Westbury-on-Trym (36.54%), with early indications that Tory and Lib voters deserted party candidates Geoff Gollop and Jon Rogers in order to vote for Ferguson.

Bookies’ favourite Rees had a highly organised campaign, with the Labour Party machinery cranking up the pressure and visits from Westminster bigwigs such as Ed Balls and Harriet Harman, as well as the ever vocal Kerry McCarthy.

But Labour voters in their south Bristol heartlands failed to turn out in support of their man, with turnout as low as 11.21 per cent in Hartcliffe.

Some traditional Labour supporters also refused to vote for Rees due to the negative campaigning by some leading members of his team.

Ferguson was not strictly standing as an independent, having founded Bristol 1st as a one-man party in order to get his logo on the ballet paper.

His independence from party control, however, struck a chord with many voters, and when he forms his first cabinet it will be drawn from cross-party talent.

Speaking from the platform after being announced as mayor, Ferguson thanked Rees, who then gave a speech which had several Labour activists in tears as he talked about the “humbling” process he has been through as a mayoral candidate.

“This is democracy in action,” he said. “This is the way it works. I’m at the end of the no, but it’s about respecting the decision that Bristol has made.

“If you have some aspiration, buckle up because you will fail. You put yourself out there, but it’s about what you do next.”

As Rees walks away with his head held high, the place to be in Bristol tonight will be the Tobacco Factory for Ferguson’s victory celebrations. The hard work starts tomorrow.

Candidate Party Final total    
George Ferguson Bristol 1st 37,353    
Marvin Rees Labour 31,259    
First round
Candidate Party 1st pref % 2nd pref
George Ferguson Bristol 1st 31,321 35.13 6,032
Marvin Rees Labour 25,896 29.05 5,363
Geoff Gollop Conservative 8,136 9.13  
Jon Rogers Liberal Democrat 6,202 6.96  
Daniella Radice Green 5,248 5.89  
Owain George Independent 2,404 2.70  
Spud Murphy Independent 1,855 2.08  
Neil Maggs Respect 1,568 1.76  
Stoney Garnett Independent 1,413 1.58  
Tom Baldwin TUSC 1,412 1.58  
Tim Collins Independent 1,037 1.16  
Philip Pover Independent 994 1.11  
Tony Britt Independent 761 0.85  
Rich Fisher Independent 494 0.55  
Dave Dobbs The Birthday Party 411 0.46  

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2 responses

16 11 2012
Josh

It twas the Culture wot won it!

16 11 2012
Andrew Parker

A bit worrying, having a Merchant Venturer pulling the strings at the helm!

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