Incumbent Mayor Ben Houchen has said his re-election is "the greatest honour" after he defeated Labour opponent Chris McEwan following a neck-and-neck race.

Lord Houchen, who was first elected as Tees Valley Mayor in 2017, defended his position with a majority of 18,789 - with 81,930 votes overall today (May 3).

The overall turnout for the vote was 31%, for which Mayor Houchen campaigned much upon his work in the area in the last seven years including at Teesside Airport, of which he says he "saved".

The Mayor, who will now enter his third term, secured victory with a reduced majority from 2021 and only defeated his Labour counterpart by a few thousand votes in towns including Hartlepool.

Following the announcement at the count in Stockton, Lord Houchen said: "I am absolutely humbled by everyone who voted for me. Teesside is a place where I was born and grew up.

"To be re-elected for a third term in my home, in my community is the greatest honour that anyone could ever give me.

"To anyone that voted for me, it's a very proud day, thank you for giving me your backing for the last seven years and thank you for backing my plan for the next four years.

"We have ran a very positive campaign and have tried to create a vision we want for our area, we have tried to show how we can change our region for the better.

"Let's be clear there is still a long way to go but we are making good progress. For as long as I am mayor I will continue to work as hard as I possibly can for everyone.

"For those who didn't vote for me, that's fine, I'll spend the next four years working doubly hard to secure your vote in the next four years.

"Let's keep on going, let's keep pushing for a better Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. More jobs, more investment."

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Following his defeat, Labour's candidate Chris McEwan said: "The issues about being more open and transparent did come up on the doorstep and I suspect they will continue to come up as we move into campaigning for the general election.

"There is a recognition on the doorstep that the Labour party has changed and that now is a time for change after 14 years of Conservative government.

"Time and time again, I have heard it's time for change and 'I'm sick of these lot'."

Later, Ben Houchen added he could “absolutely” work with Sir Keir Starmer if the Labour leader becomes prime minister, but denied “trying to pretend” he was not Conservative during his mayoral election campaign.

Mayor Houchen appeared to praise the Opposition’s position on devolution, saying it would give him “more autonomy” after his victory on Friday.

But he said “people know round here I’m a Conservative” when asked about apparent efforts to distance himself from the Tory Party brand and instead run on a highly personal platform.

Lord Houchen was the only candidate on stage not to wear a party rosette at the Tees Valley count, saying later he “forgot”.

“I have done at previous elections and the honest answer is I didn’t have one and I forgot it. But I’ve got my blue socks on and my blue tie on,” he told Sky News.

“The idea that we are trying to pretend I’m not Conservative, I mean people know round here that I’m a Conservative, but thankfully what we’ve seen today is they also know that I’m a Teessider, and I’ll put Teesside first, I’ll put local people first and I’ll do what’s best for the local area.”

Although the mayor secured a comfortable majority of 12.3%, this is considerably lower than the 45.5% majority he won over Labour in 2021.

Other results from the Tees Valley region were less positive for the Conservatives, with the party losing six councillors in Hartlepool as Labour made seven gains and took control of the council.