I AM truly honoured and humbled that local people from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool have once again put their faith in me as mayor and I'm very proud to be able to continue with what we have started.

In my first term, I concentrated on laying the foundations. The powers-that-used-to-be in our area were lethargically content to let our airport be turned into a housing estate, to see the former SSI site lie redundant, and to accept the decline of our region.

I set out to change that.

I brought our airport into public ownership and saved it from closure and started delivering a 10-year rescue plan that has already landed more airlines flying to more destinations.

I secured all the land at the former SSI steelworks from the Thai banks, and have set about breathing new life into the site now reborn as Teesworks, the UK’s biggest development opportunity.

And I banged down the doors in the corridors of power, making the case for a freeport stretching from the airport to the port of Hartlepool, massive investment in our transport infrastructure, and the relocation of top civil service jobs to our amazing region.

Over the last four years we’ve made huge progress. Now it’s time to move onto the next phase so that we can deliver thousands of good quality, well paid jobs. A true jobs tsunami for local workers from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

We need to secure the big investments that will deliver the fantastic future local people deserve. There are amazing opportunities now in offshore energy, bioengineering, and hydrogen technology. With the foundations I’ve put in place this can be a golden age of investment across our region, that will ensure we bounce back from Covid stronger than ever before.

Top of the to-do list has to be supercharging progress at Teesworks and getting our freeport open for business. I’m determined to get even more local people on-site at Teesworks, progressing faster, and paving the way for major employers like GE to move in.

I’m hard at work with my team on ensuring we have the border and technological infrastructure in place to ensure our freeport is a beacon of international trade and investment and, all-importantly, is ready as soon as possible to win good quality jobs for local people.

All of this is empowering local people and local communities, and it’s happening because of the Government’s commitment to devolution to our region.

So I’d argue we need even more of this movement of power from Whitehall to the people of Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool.

There are so many areas of our lives where we need change for local people, from healthcare to policing, and I’ll be arguing the case for more powers to be given to us to take on these challenges and to take control of our future.

I’ve heard what local people want, and I’m determined to deliver it. From pushing ahead with the airport recovery plan, holding the Government to its promises on civil service jobs and making sure Teesside is at the very heart of Britain’s green industrial revolution.

I’m not going to rest till the job is done.