The businessman tasked with winning Labour the North Yorkshire mayoral election
Apr 19, 2024

David Skaith is tasked with winning York and North Yorkshire’s mayoral election for Labour in under two weeks’ time.

The York-based businessman joined the party in 2015 after becoming “fed up” with the way the country was going politically.

Born and raised in Harrogate, Mr Skaith studied at York St John University and later set up his men’s clothing brand, Winstons of York, in the city. He has run the business for eight years.

After an unsuccessful campaign to win a seat on Labour-run City of York Council in 2023, he is now tasked with making the first Mayor of York and North Yorkshire a Labour one.

In an interview with the Stray Ferret, he says he sees the role as one that is more business-orientated, rather than political.

He said:

“I wanted to stand because I see it as different to a traditional political role, such as an MP or a councillor.

“It lends itself to someone who has come from a business background. It’s a job that is about representing York and North Yorkshire, showing leadership and bringing organisations together.”

Mr Skaith meets Lilla Bathurst, Ripon BID manager, on a visit to Ripon.

Mr Skaith meets Lilla Bathurst, Ripon BID manager, on a visit to Ripon.

Mr Skaith, who is also chair of the York High Street Forum, has focussed many of his pledges on helping people and businesses.

Inspired by a similar scheme in neighbouring West Yorkshire, he has promised to introduce a cost of living support fund to help those who are struggling financially.

He has also announced that his term as mayor would also include a high street fund which will be designed to support businesses financially and strategically.

“That [the high street fund] is going to bring in support and investment to support our high streets across the region.

“I know growing up in Harrogate that Harrogate town centre is not maybe where it was a few years ago. A lot of town centres and high streets are the same, even in York as well.”

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Mr Skaith says he is confident going into the election May 2.

He points to the resurgence of Labour in the national polls, plus the fact that the party has mayors in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

Mr Skaith says he has spoken to and met with current Labour mayors Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire and Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester during his campaign.

He said:

“They all see York and North Yorkshire as a real key area for the north because it is really going to join up the rest of Yorkshire with the south and west and link that east west connection.”

‘I want to be Mayor of York and North Yorkshire and nothing else’

With under two weeks to go until voters go to the polls, Mr Skaith says his team will continue canvassing across the county — including in Harrogate, which traditionally has backed Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

When asked why he felt confident going into polling day, he said that he hoped that voters would see him as someone who is passionate about the area.

“This is not something that I’m doing for glory and a title, it’s something I’m doing because I’m completely dedicated to it and passionate about it.

“I’m completely fed up with how the country has gone in the last 14 years and I think that passion is coming through. I’m not just another politician, I have some real world experience of having a business and a family and I think that resonates with people. It’s not just another career politician who is coming in for a pay day and onto the next step.

“I don’t want that. I want to be Mayor of York and North Yorkshire and nothing else.”

The York and North Yorkshire mayor will be chosen by residents of 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

We will feature an interview with Conservative candidate, Keane Duncan, on Monday.