A CHARITY leader has announced she will be running to become the Labour Party candidate to challenge Ben Houchen in next year's Tees Valley Mayor elections.

Jessie Joe Jacobs, a former chief executive of A Way Out, a charity which aims to tackle and prevent harm to women and young people, said she wants to pursue "a new type of politics that puts communities at the heart of political campaigning".

The 41-year-old said she wanted to create a "people's manifesto" and plans to hold meetings across the area to meet with residents and find out what they would like her to deliver.

She said: “The aim of my people-led campaign is not only to win Tees Valley back for Labour but to create a new kind of politics that has people at its heart.

"People don't feel listened to & we must change this. They must be part of the change we aim for by giving them a chance to shape our policies and be heard.

“I didn’t grow up dreaming to be mayor or a political leader, but in 2002 I met a 16 year-old girl selling her body on the streets and I knew that I had to do something.

Teesside still faces poverty, addiction, crime and violence and I want to lead the fightback against it. There is brilliant potential in our area and amongst its communities and I want to promote business start-ups, food growing projects, crisis centres, community festivals, musicians, trade unions and sports centres.

"I want to rebuild Tees Valley, brick by brick, person by person. Working together, with a new kind of politics that puts communities at the heart of what we do, I know we can achieve so much."

To become Labour’s candidate, Ms Jacobs needs to be elected as the party’s preferred nominee by individual party members across the Tees Valley mayoral region. The party will choose its candidate in November of this year.

Ms Jacob's also said Labour needs to learn the lessons from its disastrous local election results earlier this year, adding they need to get the message out they are the "party of the people – including bus drivers, teachers, community activities, and not the grey suited establishment".

"We need to face the future, it's important we bring in new industries that create high end jobs based on protecting the climate and environment. That's a win for workers and a win for the future of the planet.

"We also must make a level playing field for small and local businesses to grow & thrive. These are the people taking the biggest risks and can bring the biggest returns for our region as money made here will stay here.

The Tees Valley Mayor election takes place next May.