Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
5:05 PM 29th April 2024

North Yorkshire Mayoral Candidates: Keith Tordoff Independent

We invited candidates hoping to win the race to become North Yorkshire's first elected mayor to answer a few of our burning questions. Here are the answers from Keith Tordoff, standing as an independent.

Keith Tordoff
Keith Tordoff
According to a survey this week in The Times, a majority of people do not trust the police to solve crimes. Local community groups on social media are filled with stories of people reporting crimes to the police but no action being taken. What practical steps would you take as Mayor to improve policing and the image of policing in North Yorkshire?

With crime levels across the country continuing to rise, and ongoing budget cuts, it’s not surprising that many people are losing faith in the police.

I’ll make sure that my deputy will ensure services are outstanding. Currently we’re simply not good enough. Crime rates show 6% detection - meaning 94% of criminals are getting away with it!

Having been a serving police officer myself for 20 years, I’ve got a unique insight into what the police force, and the communities it serves, need.

Services remain understaffed and under equipped, and I’m determined to change that.

I’ll also talk to appropriate parts of the private sector about sponsorship and support for the police. There are high net worth individuals out there who fully understand that without the protection of services we’re all vulnerable.

The new Chief Constable needs solid support and not to be having to look over his shoulder at the politicians which is currently the case That’s why, whoever I appoint, won’t be a politician.

North Yorkshire is large and most of it is rural. Many communities have limited or no bus services or public transport. With new mayoral powers over devolved transport, what will you do to improve this?

Rural communities, especially those in the Yorkshire Dales, are in real need of better connectivity.

I’ve led previous successful campaigns to save public bus services and introduce new ones.

I’ll continue to work with bus companies to extend evening and weekend services and explore any appropriate opportunities for a hybrid bus franchising model which protects smaller operators from bureaucracy and red tape if this can be shown to improve the service.

All public transport will be free to under-18s.

I recently had an extremely productive meeting with First Bus to discuss strategic and operational services for York and North Yorkshire.

They have a very impressive team and infrastructure, using mostly electric buses.

An incoming Mayor can work with First Bus and other Bus operators to offer integrated transport solutions - that could be increasing services, particularly on an evening or a night, encouraging park and ride, and offering services to communities in outlying areas.

A thirty-year investment fund will be available to you as mayor, but the funding amounts to only £18m per year, which is a tiny amount when split across the whole of North Yorkshire. Assuming you’ll therefore be focusing the investment instead, which areas do you intend to benefit from the fund first and why?

I want to make North Yorkshire an economic powerhouse: a place where businesses thrive, and residents find meaningful employment both in rural communities and cities;

I’ll get a better deal from Government as clearly we haven’t got the best deal at the moment. We’re in Tier 3 funding. They don’t trust us in North Yorkshire don’t the Government, so they’re holding onto it. Other authorities have been given far more funding in Tier 4.

To maximise investment, we need to identify areas of the county which are most in need of funding rather than throwing pots of cash around in a random and unplanned way.

If elected, I’ll immediately work with a wide range of agencies on the ground to canvass their thoughts and opinions on how we can maximise funding in the most effective and beneficial manner.

I’ll establish a mayoral fund from day one, funded from high-net-worth individuals, businesses, corporations, and charitable trusts. I estimate this will hold £5m in the first 12 months and be an accessible route for communities to access funding without hurdles and red tape.

With full devolution of the adult education budget to the mayor, what plans do you have with regard to changing or improving adult education provision across the region?

There’s no doubt about the importance of adult education in strengthening the region’s economy.

Highly-skilled and educated individuals are the successful workforce of tomorrow. I’ll create the first green technical college in North Yorkshire connecting students with businesses to grow our future.

It’s been reported that £12.7m has been allocated for the mayor to deliver 700 new homes on brownfield sites in the region. That’s only £18,000 per home. What can you actually deliver with that money?

We’ll end homelessness as we did when COVID came along. Everyone was taken off the streets and provided with housing.

The mayor has huge powers, one of which is to compulsory purchase and use brownfield sites for residential development and to build new houses.

I’ll put modular properties on these sites. I’ll convert warehouses so that homeless people can have a ‘pod’ for the night which is safe, secure, and services can deal with them.

It’s going to be more visionary than the politicians who move too slowly with everything they talk about delivering. I’ve got a proven track record of delivering for York and North Yorkshire.

I’ve spoken with various charities and various housing associations. They all say the same thing to me ‘Keith, talking to you is like talking to a breath of fresh air. We’re sending those messages away to councils and to the Government but they’re not listening to us. You’ll become our advocate, the ambassador for us, you’ll get a better deal for us as you’re a businessman and a negotiator.’

When it comes up against the planning structure of the council, then that’s where the problems start. So, it must be a reverse of how it is at the moment. It has to be upward management rather than downward management.

There have been numerous well-reported disagreements and problems between existing regional mayors and central government. With a new Labour government widely expected to be in power later this year, how do you propose to handle the relationship with Westminster?

As an Independent candidate, I’ll get a better deal from Government as clearly the politicians haven’t got the best deal at the moment.

Unlike other candidates representing distinct parties, I’m not ruled by any political masters. I can approach any issue fairly, independently, and without any political bias. This will allow me to get the best possible result for all concerned.

Tourism is a major contributor to the economy in much of the region. What plans do you have to promote North Yorkshire further? How will you support businesses across the region that are involved with tourism?

There’s no doubt that tourism plays a significant role in North Yorkshire’s economy. I’ve lived here for many years and will do all I can to fly the flag for North Yorkshire.

I have a track record of success in Nidderdale delivering on tourism projects e.g. ‘Best High Street, Britain in Bloom, food festivals, and 1940s events which have all injected money into the local economy.

If elected, I’ll immediately arrange meetings with representatives from the tourism sector. This will allow me to take on board, and understand, the key challenges they face. I’ll then work closely with different agencies to ensure I help them receive the help and support they need not just to survive, but to continue thriving into the future.

I’ll identify problems by listening to them and deliver results driven by my passion and love for the county.

£10m has been set aside for you to support transition to net zero. What are your opinions about climate change and what will you achieve with this money?

A vote for me to be North Yorkshire Mayor means practical measures to reduce our carbon footprint.

I want North Yorkshire to have the greenest and most sustainable economy in the UK.

If elected, I’ll introduce a range of green initiatives – for example waterbutts for houses, solar panels on all new buildings, and reintroducing beavers onto rivers to help flood defences.

The combined authority has said that it will “unlock economic opportunity”, “empower business growth” and “create new and better paid jobs”. This sounds positive; yet it is very vague. How will you actually achieve these goals?

If elected, I’ll make North Yorkshire an economic powerhouse: a place where businesses thrive, and residents find meaningful employment both in rural communities and cities.

I’ll work with training providers to ensure they receive the correct funding and support to enable them to deliver the outcomes required to create the workforce of the future.

I’ve already met with many Chambers of Commerce across the district to discuss the challenges they face, and the actions needed to overcome these challenges.

Finally, I’ll work closely with existing businesses to ensure they have access to the correct levels of support to allow them to continually thrive and grow.

The makeup of the combined authority board looks to be skewed in favour of York rather than representing the whole of the region. How do you intend to ensure that York does not excessively benefit at the expense of other areas?

As an Independent candidate, I’ll bridge the gap between the different political parties who always resort to tribalism and don’t deliver. With such a large geographically spread, and often remote, area to cover, it’s essential that all parts of the county are represented and nowhere receives preferential treatment.

If elected, I’ll be an extremely visible and accessible mayor constantly meeting both residents and businesses alike to understand their needs, and ensure I deliver these in as fair and effective way as possible.

Openness and transparency are essential to restore the public’s trust and confidence in politics.

Why do you want to be mayor?

As an Independent candidate, I’ll serve the people not the political parties or individual politicians. We need to regain confidence and I want to deliver for the people of York and North Yorkshire who’ve lost trust in the electoral system.

I’ll identify problems by listening to them and secure results driven by my passion and love for the county.

Tell us something more personal about yourself that demonstrates why we should vote for you.

I served as a police officer, detective, and specialist fraud investigator for banks, before becoming a successful businessman, growing million-pound businesses in several sectors from retail to mail order to property development.

I have a strong record of involvement in the voluntary sector, serving as Chair of the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade and Chair of the Pateley Bridge Britain in Bloom Group, winning national awards with both. I’m a Patron of Dementia Forward - a registered charity based in North Yorkshire - and was fundraiser of the year in the North for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

I received the MBE in 2018 for services to business and the community.

I previously stood as an Independent Candidate in both 2021 North Yorkshire Police Fire Crime Commissioner (PFCC) elections.

The York and North Yorkshire mayor will be chosen by residents across the region in an election on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

The full list of candidates are:

Keith Tordoff, independent
Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, Liberal Democrats
Keane Duncan, Conservative Party
David Skaith, Labour Party
Kevin Foster, Green Party
Paul Haslam, independent