Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has launched a scathing attack on a regional transport body after records show he has attended no meetings in almost five years despite being a board member.

Transport for the North (TfN) brings together regional mayors and local representatives from across the North of England to lobby Government and other transport authorities for further investment and greater connectivity. Recent campaigns involve calling for the Leamside Line to be reopened in the North East, creating Northern Powerhouse Rail and building HS2 in full. 

Mr Houchen is the only Conservative of six mayors on the board and joined in 2018, representing the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). But despite being expected to attend 22 meetings in that time he has failed to show up at any. 

The mayor labelled the TfN a “talking shop” and said he continues to deliver for the Tees Valley, unlike members who “sit around tables for long periods of time saying what should be done and congratulate themselves for their efforts”. 

He cancelled an appearance at a northern transport conference in Newcastle on March 4 at the last minute because a local investment meeting took priority, the mayor said. Transport for the North said members do not have to attend a certain number of meetings, with local authority representatives often sent as a replacement.  

The Conservative mayor was recently criticised by councillors in Darlington for his alleged lack of ambition for the region’s transport network. 

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In response, Mr Houchen said: “TfN is a talking shop, nothing more, nothing less and I would ask anyone to tell me what they have ever actually delivered. 

"I prefer spending my time getting things done, and delivering on my promises to the people I represent, and I can tell you exactly what that is: an International Airport, a new £140m train station for Darlington, the Treasury Campus, a steelworks brought back to life employing thousands of local people, and two new Mayoral Development Corporations backed by £98m to revive our towns. 

"Lots of people sit around tables for long periods of time saying what should be done and congratulate themselves for their efforts - it helps no one. We should all be getting on and delivering real progress for the people of the Tees Valley. 

"I make no apologies for prioritising the people of Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool over round tables and buffet lunches and the fact that the Labour Party have chosen to criticise me for this says much more about their priorities for our area".

Transport for the North has been contacted for comment. 

North of Tyne Labour mayor, Jamie Driscoll said: "I think the people I represent have done pretty well out of my participation in TfN – although I’ve never had a buffet lunch there. They don’t even serve biscuits – which Ben would know if he ever turned up.

 "Sitting round the table is how we’ve landed the country’s best devolution deal – despite me being a Labour Mayor negotiating with a Conservative government."