A MAYORAL candidate from a small political party has pulled out of the race, describing the process as an “affront to democracy”.

John Tait, of the North East Party, has been forced to withdraw from the race to be Tees Valley Mayor after failing to raise the £5,000 deposit needed to stand as a candidate.

The North East Party had managed to raise almost £2,000 towards the deposit needed, but the deadline for its crowdfunding campaign came to an end today.

In a statement, the party said: “Although we raised almost £2,000 towards the deposit, this still fell well short of the £5,000 set by Central Government.

“We have therefore decided to withdraw John’s candidacy and focus our resources on over a dozen Durham County Council seats we will be fighting in the upcoming local elections, as well as the many town and parish council seats we will be contesting in our own right, or with independents and community groups.

“When they insisted on the creation of the Tees Valley Mayor, the government in London promised democratic accountability for the powers and funds which will be devolved to the region through the Tees Valley Devolution Deal.

“In setting the deposit so high they have ensured only the wealthy and those representing national political parties can stand.

“This is an affront to democracy.”

The party had set up a crowdfunding campaign to allow Mr Tait to run as Mayor. Yesterday, a message saying “Unfortunately, this project was not successful,” was posted on it.

It also described the deposit of £5,000, plus £750 for the election address, as being “unrealistically high”.

The North East party is a regionalist party which has a number of councillors throughout the region and controls Peterlee Town Council.

It is standing for more than a dozen county council seats this year and also fielded four Parliamentary candidates in 2015.

The four remaining candidates are Sue Jeffrey for Labour, Conservative Ben Houchen, Chris-Foote Wood for the Lib Dems and UKIP’s John Tennant.