Sedgefield MP Paul Howell has thrown his hat in the ring to become Conservative candidate for the Mayor of the North East in the upcoming election.

The vote is set to take place on May 2, 2024.

Mr Howell emphasised that he wants to unite the North East as a region and that would be his top priority if he was made Conservative candidate and then won the election.

Currently he would be competing with Jamie Driscoll (an independent) and Kim McGuinness (Labour).

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Mr Howell said: "One of the most things for the devolution deal is that we have a connected North East.

"We need to join up the centres of the region.

"The top priority has to be the region. 

"It's such an opportunity it's such an important role. 

"We need to get it right. We need somebody in there that really understands business.

"My personal belief is that I have shown over time that I can work with different people.

"We have to be able to work with all sorts of people.

"So therefore we have to work across the political divide and I am capable of doing that.

"That's why I'm throwing my hat in the ring."

If Mr Howell was appointed as Mayor of the North East he said he would prioritise infrastructure and transport in the region.

He believes that "there is nothing better to increase social mobility is to increase physical mobility".

He does not see himself as a career politician after the time he spent in business.

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Through his business connections he believes that he will have a better ability to fulfil the role.

Mr Howell added: "I'm putting myself forward to be in that space (for the role).

"I can't comment further until I know which other people are putting themselves forward."