Kim McGuinness has vowed to fight for the North East as she thanked voters for putting their trust in her to be the region’s first mayor.

The Labour candidate secured 41.3% of the vote, beating independent candidate and former North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll by 58,000 ballots.

McGuinness, the former Northumbria PCC, vowed during the campaign to fix the region’s ‘broken’ public transport network and end child poverty.

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Asked how she felt after securing the win the new Mayor told the Echo: “It feels great, I’m really, really proud that the people of the region have put their trust in me to be their first ever North East Mayor and I look forward to getting started.

”We will absolutely deliver but we’ve also said really clearly that we’re in this for the long haul. Our region is a brilliant place, but we have been held back by 14 years of Tory austerity, we’ve been held back by decades of centralisation, and this is day one of that change.

The Northern Echo: Kim McGuinness speaking after her victory.Kim McGuinness speaking after her victory. (Image: NORTH NEWS)

“We’re going to be taking more power from London and making more of our own decisions. These are long-term goals, but I know the people of the region identify with them.

“Change is coming, we’re hoping to get a Labour government later this year. I think a Labour mayor working with a Labour government can get that much needed change.”

She said she will be putting pressure on the transport secretary from day one to help save the Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe and said that was the kind of fight she would show for people in every part of the new combined authority area.

“That’s going to be one of the things that I do right at the beginning is get straight onto the transport secretary as the person with a mandate in this region to say you can’t close that factory, it’s just not acceptable to treat us this way. That’s the sort of fight I’ll be taking for the people of County Durham.

“This has got to be about the whole of our region – villages, towns as well as the cities.”

The results were announced at Silksworth Leisure Centre in Sunderland shortly after 2.15pm.

The Northern Echo: Kim McGuinness celebrates her election as North East Mayor.Kim McGuinness celebrates her election as North East Mayor. (Image: NORTH NEWS)

Sir Keir Starmer said: “This is a phenomenal result in the North East. Winning her shows that people have had enough of Conservative chaos and are ready for change.

“We have run a positive campaign here, focussed on delivering for the region after years of the Tories taking the public for granted. Mayor Kim McGuinness will work tirelessly to deliver better transport, good quality homes, safer streets, and better opportunities for all.

Polling released last weekend had suggested the Labour candidate and Jamie Driscoll, who was blocked from standing by the Labour Party last summer having been their North of Tyne Mayor since 2019, were neck and neck in the race to become the region’s new political figurehead.

The Northern Echo: Independent candidate Jamie Driscoll speaking to The Northern Echo's Daniel Hordon.Independent candidate Jamie Driscoll speaking to The Northern Echo's Daniel Hordon. (Image: NORTH NEWS)

McGuinness ultimately secured a comfortable margin of victory, although the result was much tighter in Newcastle, where Driscoll fell just 1,400 votes short of a win.

Posting to X after the results were declared Driscoll said: “There is a huge appetite for pragmatic transformative policies that reduce inequality and treat people with respect. We are building a movement and we’re staying right here.

“When recent General Election polling in the North East shows Labour with 60+% of the vote, most commentators thought Labour would walk this. The fact that we got 126,652 votes here, nearly as much as Tories, Green, Lib Dem and Reform put together, with no Westminster party machine behind us, shows something is happening in the North East.

“This was a people powered campaign and it doesn’t die with just one election result. Tens of thousands of people voted for a different type of politics.”

Speaking to the Echo a short time later he said: “I want to give a place of hope and positivity. That will be perhaps standing in council elections, but if that means running (for Mayor) in four years’ time then that’s what I will do.”

The Northern Echo: A sad-looking Jamie Driscoll while Kim McGuinness delivers her speech.A sad-looking Jamie Driscoll while Kim McGuinness delivers her speech. (Image: North News)

The votes come after a multi-billion pound devolution deal was agreed with the Government and will see the region handed new funding and decision-making powers over areas like transport and housing.

McGuinness will lead the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority which brings County Durham and Northumberland in with the five local authorities of Tyne & Wear.

See the results across each Local Authority area

The 38-year-old said the election marked a “really big moment for the North East as we take the first step to taking control of our own future”.

She pledged to turn the North East into the “real home of opportunity” with new jobs and green industries and a major public transport overhaul, including bringing privatised bus services back under public control.

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John McCabe, chief executive at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “I congratulate Kim McGuinness on being elected North East mayor. The Chamber recognises the huge responsibility that is now on Kim and the team around her to deliver the full benefits of devolution to our region.

“From the day the deal was signed to the announcement of this election result, our members have followed the devolution process with great interest, such is its significance to our economic prospects.

 “On their behalf, the Chamber stands ready to work alongside the mayor, her cabinet and team to ensure we seize this moment together to create the stronger, fairer North East we all aspire to. I’m looking forward to beginning that conversation with the new mayor in the very near future.”

The other candidates were Conservative Guy Renner-Thompson (52,446 votes), Green Party’s Andrew Gray (17,631 votes), Liberal Democrat Aidan King (25,485 votes), and Reform UK’s Paul Donaghy (41,147 votes).