York & North Yorkshire Mayoral Hustings : Whitby & District

On 2nd May 2024, voters of York and North Yorkshire will be able to vote for a mayor for the Combined Authority. The mayor will chair the combined authority. The role of the mayor is to work alongside local leaders to create a long-term vision, secure more investment into the region. The mayor is not a serving councillor and will not replace the leaders of existing councils. Once elected, the York and North Yorkshire Mayor will serve a 4-year term, at which point they can choose to stand for re-election.

The York and North Yorkshire Mayor will lead investment of £540 million to be spent over the next 30 years. The mayor will work with local leaders to bring more money into our region to invest in the things that matter to us. The role of the mayor is to be a strong voice and a champion for York and North Yorkshire businesses and communities. They’ll provide key leadership in public safety, taking on the role and functions of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

This is an opportunity for more control over our region and how our economy can grow in the right ways to create new jobs and opportunities for local people. Right now, the Combined Authority is supporting investment already allocated: £12.7 million to deliver more than 700 new homes on brownfield sites and a further £10 million to support transition to net zero, unlocking economic opportunity, empowering business growth and creating new and better paid jobs.

The candidates for the election are as follows

  • Keith Tordoff OBE is a former detective of Pateley Bridge. He is standing as an independent candidate.
  • David Skaith is a business owner and chair of the York High Street Forum, born in Harrogate and now living in Wheldrake. He represents the Labour Party.
  • Cllr Felicity Cunliffe-Lister is a businesswoman, and North Yorkshire councillor for Masham and Fountains. She represents the Liberal Democrat party.
  • Cllr Kevin Foster is a former soldier, and North Yorkshire councillor for Hipswell and Colburn. He represents the Green Party.
  • Cllr Paul Haslam has his own management consultancy, and is the North Yorkshire councillor for Bilton and Nidd Gorge. He is standing as an independent candidate.
  • Cllr Keane Duncan is a North Yorkshire councillor for Norton. He represents the Conservative Party.

The Hustings

We will be holding a mayoral hustings on Monday 15th April 2024 between 18:30 and 20:30 (expected finish time). It will take place in Whitby Pavilion.

All candidates were invited to attend the hustings by email on 20th February 2024, and again on 17th March 2024. Five candidates who have thus far agreed to participate are shown below; the other candidate has not replied to both invitations sent.

Keith Tordoff OBE


David Skaith

Labour Party

Cllr Felicity Cunliffe-Lister

Liberal Democrat Party

Cllr Kevin Foster

Green Party

Cllr Paul Haslam


There is a POSTER available for display, as well as an image for use with Facebook.

The hustings will start with each candidate being given 5 minutes to introduce themselves and explain what they will do for Whitby and District should they be elected. It will then be the chance for people to ask questions, and we will rotate the order of candidates answering, with each candidate having 2 minutes max to answer each question.


If you wish to submit a question to be asked at the hustings, please use our Contact Form (for a question to be asked on the night you will need to be present). We may merge similar questions since there is only limited time at the event. If any questions are not answered at the event we will endeavour to get answers from the candidates by email.

We have pre-submitted the following questions to the candidates who are attending.

Education: How ambitious are you for Whitby’s children? What is your vision for improving education and training for children and young people? Would you support and advocate for  updating and future proofing education and training provision, through the development of a new school on a single site, addressing the needs of all 11-18 year olds? A site that could become an education and training hub, where much needed vocational training could also be offered. Many of us believe that after years of short term thinking we need to be ambitious for our children and young people, and for the future of the town itself. Whitby’s children and young people need a new school,  a modern learning and training centre, fit for purpose. The current Caedmon sixth form site offers the space and potential for a new school, funded in whole or in part by using the capital receipts generated from the sale of the two other secondary school sites.

Housing: The boom in mainly holiday homes in Whitby has resulted in over 38% of our housing stock being lost, and we are now seeing commercial properties similarly been converted, decimating the local community, with the inevitable loss in local services eg, education & skills training, public transport and employee availability. What do candidates propose to do to ensure primary homes are available to local residents and key workers in Whitby & District, in an area with limited development land (surrounded by a National Park and the sea), that are truly affordable in-perpetuity, accessible, and energy efficient?

Transport: Whitby district has probably the worst rail line in the country with just 5 slow trains per day, and has a decimated unreliable bus service that does not reach many places. Cycling levels are amongst the lowest in the county due to lack of infrastructure, and footpaths are poorly maintained and many not accessible to all. The end result of this is that people are utterly dependent on vehicles, whilst the current parking strategy for Whitby is not fit for purpose, resulting in gridlocked streets for many months of the year. What would you do for transport in Whitby and District to improve the situation?

NYMNP (area of Whitby & District not included): Would you, as Mayor, actively support the extension of the North York Moors National Park boundary to include Whitby town, Sleights and Sandsend?

Disability & Accessible Transport: The City of York council employs an Access & Inclusion officer to ensure that the needs of its disabled residents are considered in all of its policies and services. It has also adopted the Social Model of Disability. 25% of York’s taxis already are wheelchair accessible and recently their council has introduced a financial incentive to increase that number. In contrast North Yorkshire Council has only 6% of its taxi fleet as accessible; no Access & Inclusion officer; has not adopted the Social Model of Disability and its new 5-year Taxi & Private Hire Policy does not require any increase in the number of wheelchair taxis. As Mayor, how will you make sure that the wheelchair-using residents of North Yorkshire have the same ability to book a taxi, as the residents of York can do now ?

Powers and Responsibilities of the Mayor

The Mayor will have certain powers and responsibilities, devolved to them by central government. York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority (YNYCA) will have control of a long-term investment fund, with £18m per year of funding promised by the government over 30 years.

In summary these include:

  • the 30-year Mayoral Investment Fund and the powers to borrow against funds;
  • the core adult education budget, have input into new local skills improvement plans;
  • land assembly and compulsory purchase powers, the ability to designate mayoral development areas and establish mayoral development corporations, and the power to call in planning decisions will also be devolved;
  • powers to improve the supply and quality of housing and secure the development of land or infrastructure. Up to £2.65m will be given to YNYCA as a one-off investment towards delivering low-carbon homes, to pilot new energy efficiency or shared ownership schemes;
  • control of a devolved transport budget, and will have bus franchising powers and power to draw up a local transport plan. It will also have control of a Key Route Network of major roads;
  • community safety and the powers to appoint a Deputy Mayor who will carry out many of the duties currently held by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner;
  • £7m investment towards YNYCA’s ambition to become England’s first carbon-negative region;
  • the ability to work in partnership with the Department for Culture Media and Sport’s arm’s length bodies to develop the region’s cultural potential, with a a role in culture and tourism;
  • the power to impose a council tax precept, with the agreement of the authority as a whole;
  • the power to charge a business rates supplement is also being devolved.

Note : The Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership includes and extends beyond YNYCA boundaries, therefore the devolution agreement does not include health.

Read more here.

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