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Oliver Coppard EXCLUSIVE: South Yorkshire Mayor expected to face early election after only two years in the job

It appears Oliver Coppard will have to face re-election after successfully lobbying for the mayor's office to take on police and crime responsibilities.

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Oliver Coppard is set to face re-election only two years into the job.

South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.

It appears that the Mayor of South Yorkshire Oliver Coppard will have to face re-election halfway through his four year term, after persuading the government to absorb the responsibilities of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) into the mayor's role.

Doncaster Council's website has been updated to show an election taking place on 4 May 2024, for a "South Yorkshire Combined Authority Mayor with PCC functions".

The winner of the election will then serve a four year term until 2028.

At the last election in 2022 Labour's Oliver Coppard won with 71.4% of the vote, leaving the Conservatives, the Yorkshire Party and the Green Party trailing behind.

In May, Coppard announced his intention to enter negotiations with the government to take on PCC responsibilities, with the term of Alan Billings, the current PCC, coming to an end in May 2024. Other mayors around the country that have not taken on additional responsibilities are not facing early re-election.

The upcoming election will be the first to take place in South Yorkshire after the government changed the voting system for all mayoral elections away from the Supplementary Vote (SV), which allowed voters to express a first and second preference.

The Conservative government have said that all mayoral elections now must use the first-past-the-post system, which benefits the Conservative Party. This is because voters for progressive parties usually give their second preference votes to other progressive parties under the SV system. The new first-past-the-post system could see the Conservatives win if the progressive vote is split, despite a majority of voters opposing them.

London's Labour mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that many voters are still unaware that the Conservatives have changed the voting system for upcoming elections.

Transport is likely to be a central issue at next year's elections for a South Yorkshire Mayor, after Coppard staked his first term on making improvements to the city's buses and trams (the Supertram network is being brought back under public control in March 2024).

Now campaigners at Better Buses for South Yorkshire are calling on local leaders to accelerate plans to bring the region's poor quality bus network back under public control as well.

"Mayor Coppard has rightly made ending the rip-off of private control a key priority in his first term, but bringing forward the election means he has even less time to deliver," Matthew Topham from the campaign told Now Then.

“It’s essential that the region’s Labour council Leaders, and national government, back his plans so we can get in the fast lane towards public control, alongside Liverpool, Leeds, and Manchester, before the spring election.”

The South Yorkshire Mayor's office has been approached for comment.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)

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