Stuart Drummond, independent Mayor of Hartlepool, defeated the official Labour candidate by more than 10,000 votes.

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This is an archived article published in May 2005
Labour wins new mayors
in British General election

By Andrew Stevens, UK Editor

8 May 2005: Alongside both the British General Election and the scheduled elections to England's 34 county councils, elections took place in four mayoralties in England.  The votes, the first occasion for re-election since the inaugural elections in 2002, largely saw success for Labour. This took place on a day when the Labour Government was re-elected for a third term but the Conservatives saw modest gains in the county council elections.

The most high profile vote was in Hartlepool, where the town's football mascot Stuart Drummond was famously elected as an Independent in 2002, and on this occasion the incumbent mayor easily saw off a challenge from the Labour Party, beating the opposing candidate by over 10,000 votes. Labour control the town's council however and Mr Drummond will have to form an administration from its members and face increased scrutiny from them in his second term.  The Mayor used his acceptance speech to propose to his partner, who then revealed she was pregnant.  A young former credit control manager in one of the town's call centres with no political background, Mr Drummond surprised many political observers with how quickly he took to the role.  Since then he has become something of a national celebrity and was also an apolitical influence in the politically-divisive Parliamentary by-election in the town last year.

Doncaster Labour Mayor Martin Winter, a former council leader in the town, was re-elected but had to see off a very strong Independent candidate.  The town become well-known for municipal corruption when under Labour's control in the 1990s and after a series of criminal prosecutions the party has surrendered control of the council to independents.

Two surprising gains for Labour were in North Tyneside and the Midlands city of Stoke on Trent. Incumbent Conservative Mayor Linda Arkley lost North Tyneside to her Labour challenger John Harrison in the second round of voting by 1,002 votes. The council itself was gained from Labour by the Conservatives in last year's local elections but the mayoral gain by the party in 2002 was seen as something of an upset for New Labour's mayoral project as the only Conservative-held mayoralty in the country capping off a poor set of result for Labour. Previously the council, under the old system, had been controlled by Labour but what was seen as bad choice of candidate led to divisions within the party and the gain by the Conservatives. However, the elected mayor resigned only one year later due to being tried for sexual assault and child pornography charges, of which he was later acquitted. The Conservatives held the mayoralty in the by-election, which was also attributed to another poor choice of candidate from the Labour Party on that occasion.

In Stoke on Trent, the only example of the Mayor and Council Manager system out of England's 11 mayoralties, the independent mayor Mike Wolfe lost to his Labour challenger, Mark Meredith.  Mr Wolfe, who ran the campaign to introduce an elected mayor to the town, was originally a contender for the Labour nomination in 2002 but he when was beaten in the selection contest by the town's sitting Member of Parliament, decided to stand as an independent.  

England's seven other elected mayors, with the exception of London, face re-election at the end of their terms of office in the local elections scheduled for May 2006.

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