The count is on to reveal Leeds council and mayoral election winners
The count is on to see who will be the first West Yorkshire mayor and who will take council seats across the city following this week's elections.
Although voting took place as usual on Thursday, there was no mass overnight count at the First Direct arena as in previous years due to COVID social distancing rules - meaning that there has been a lower capacity for counting.
Votes were verified yesterday and counting will take place today (Saturday). It is expected that results will start to come in later this afternoon and evening and we will find out how the city's council make up may have changed.
Some we already know about as eight councillors did not contest their seats, including former leader Coun Judith Blake (Lab, Middleton Park) and former executive member for planning Coun Peter Gruen (Lab, Cross Gates and Whinmoor). Others retiring or not contesting their seats were Neil Dawson (Lab, Morley South), Mark Harrison (Con, Pudsey) Christine Knight (Lab, Weetwood) Pat Latty (Con, Guiseley and Rawdon); and Eleanor Tunnicliffe and Angela Wenham, both formerly Labour councillors for Roundhay.
In total, Labour have 19 seats up for re-election, with eight for the Conservatives, one for the Lib Dems, two for independent groups, one for the greens and two vacancies.
One of the big names vying for re-election is Coun James Lewis (Kippax and Methley) who was recently appointed the new leader of Leeds City Council after Judith Blake stepped down.
Following the last local elections in 2019, Leeds’s Labour group boasted 57 councillors – seven above the 50 needed for a working majority on the council and since 2019, Labour’s numbers have been reduced to 54 due to resignations.
This would mean Labour would have to make a net loss of five seats or more in order to be without a majority for the first time since 2010 but, no other party than Labour could mathematically gain a working majority at this election. For example, the second biggest party on the council is the Conservatives with 23 seats. Even if they took ALL the Labour seats and kept all of their own, they would still only have 42 seats – eight short of a majority, but still five more than Labour.
Meanwhile, the counting of votes for what will be the first West Yorkshire Mayor are set to take place tomorrow (Sunday).
It follows the devolution deal announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last year, where West Yorkshire is set to be given increased powers of governance, and an extra £38m a year to do this.
The mayoral authority will not replace the individual councils, but will rather have certain powers over region-wide strategic projects and spending such as housing and development, transport and the setting of a precept on council tax to fund mayoral functions.
Candidates are Wajid Ali (Reform Party); Tracy Brabin (Labour Party); Bob Buxton (Yorkshire Party); Andrew Cooper (Green Party); Stewart Golton (Liberal Democrat); Therese Hirst (English Democrats); Matt Robinson (Conservative).
The full election results will be in Monday's Yorkshire Evening Post and running on our live blogs over the weekend.
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