AN ENGINEER has declared his intention to become the next Tees Valley Mayor.

Business owner Dan Smith, from Thornaby, has launched a campaign to be selected as the Labour candidate.

He said: "The role of Tees Valley Mayor is significant, both in terms of devolved powers and the considerable funding that comes with the position.

"We should have seen major improvements in our regional economy, the skills and opportunities for young people, our public transport system and more skilled jobs - that hasn't happened and when we look around at other areas in the country with City Mayors they're shooting for the moon.

"We need to be more ambitious. I was lucky enough to become an apprentice electrician when I left school and that gave me a good career with a chance to work across Teesside, the country and eventually travel the world - like many Teesside tradespeople.'

'Those opportunities have dried up for many kids who grew up where I did and also many other places across the Tees Valley. This has devastated our communities but has also left Teesside with a skills deficit - that's unthinkable for a place with our heritage."

The Mayoral hopeful also worked overseas in Iraq, developing transport infrastructure and managing large scale construction projects, leading a team of 550 people in an extremely hazardous environment.

Mr Smith said: "I learned skills out there that I could never have anywhere else. The people who I worked with were fantastic and from every corner of the globe. We achieved some amazing feats and I was very proud that I, as a Teessider, was leading the way in some of the toughest conditions."

He now runs a media business, 90SecondStory, which boasts a long list of Teesside clients and also some national brands.

He added: "Wherever I’ve worked I’ve been proud to say my roots are here in Teesside. It’s not hard to sell the Tees Valley as a place to do business and to invest when you believe in this place and our people. And I do. I've always been a proud Teessider. My Dad and Grandad worked at British Steel and I've been proud to follow in their footsteps. They taught me the value of working with others to achieve together - something I've done in both the Trade Union and Labour Party movements.

To see so many of our communities left behind and our young people without options is heart-breaking.

A visit to the Youth Club in Thornaby last month finally made my mind up to stand."

He said he had a plan to transform Teesside and lead a green industrial revolution.