The Tees Valley Mayor has today (Monday, February 5) pledged to make swimming free for all children under 11. 

Since Mayor Ben Houchen launched his re-election campaign, he has announced plans to build a new hospital in Teesside, and to cap bus travel at £1 for all under 21s in a move to connect young people with jobs and training opportunities. 

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen said, “We have spent the past 6 and a half years putting in the key building blocks to get our area back to the starting line, so that we could once again begin attracting the global investment and jobs that we deserve.

“This is now happening on a huge scale, and it is time to move to the next chapter, ensuring local people in Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool feel the benefit of this hard work in their day to day lives.

“I have already announced that I will build Teesside the new hospital it deserves, and this pledge to provide free swimming builds on this, to ensure hard working people from across our area benefit from the improvements we are seeing.

“It is clear that we must twin our plan for a new hospital with measures that also improve local people’s health. At a time where finances are tough right across the country, I want to make sure hard-working families can afford to take their kids to their local baths to teach them to swim, which is hugely beneficial to physical and mental health outcomes.

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“Getting people active will reduce the pressure on our health service, allow for better care, help with educational outcomes and improve the lives of everyone living in Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool – giving the best possible start to the next generation to secure one of the many opportunities we’re creating for our local community.

“Having just become a dad, I also know how important it is to teach our children key life skills like swimming, help with health outcomes and I want to make sure everyone in our area has access to these opportunities that can have a real impact on physical and mental health as well as better educational outcomes.”

Incumbent mayor Ben Houchen will go up against Chris McEwan, the deputy Labour leader for Darlington Borough Council; Simon Thorley from the Lib Dems, and Sally Bunce from the Green Party, this May.