By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
A Tory candidate will be Croydon’s first mayor after almost 100,000 people voted in Thursday’s historic election.
Conservative candidate Jason Perry was announced the winner in the early hours of Saturday – beating Labour’s Val Shawcross by just 589 votes.
There was a 35 per cent turnout in the first election of its kind in Croydon – 97,457 people casting a vote.
The ballot for a directly-elected mayor comes after a referendum in October 2021 to change the running of the council.
Mr Perry, who secured his win with 38,612 votes, will take up a new direct leadership role with extra powers to head up the council, replacing the traditional leader position, which is selected by the ruling party.
The result came in the day before it was announced the council had gone under no overall control after Labour lost its majority on the council.
The party lost seven seats to the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and newcomers in Croydon the Green Party.
In a tearful speech, Mr Perry thanked his family, including his mum, who died during the campaign.
He said: “I’ve said all the way through that this mayoralty is a game changer.
“My thanks go to the Croydon electorate for putting their trust in me. There is hope in our borough, we can restore faith and pride in our borough together.
“We are so much stronger together. We can put Croydon back on the right path.”
Perry, 52, has been a Croydon councillor for 28 years and has been leader of the Croydon Conservatives since 2020.
He said he will reform the council’s housing department after shocking living conditions were exposed at a council block in Regina Road and has pledged to reopen Purley Pool.
Pictured top: Ballot boxes arrive for counting