BEN HOUCHEN will today launch his campaign for re-election as the Tees Valley Mayor during a speech at AV Dawson in Middlesbrough.

He was elected as the first ever metro mayor for the region in 2017 with 51 per cent of the vote, defeating the favourite, Labour candidate Sue Jeffrey.

At the time, it was seen a shock victory for the Conservatives, but events since have seen a number of notable successes for the Tories, not least in the recent General Election.

The headline-grabbing pledge of Mr Houchen’s 2017 campaign was his vow to bring Durham Tees Valley Airport back into public ownership. A deal for the purchase by Tees Valley Combined Authority was struck with then-owner Peel in January 2018, and last year, following a public vote, it reverted to its previous name of Teesside Airport.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Houchen said: “I’m running on a record of delivery and a promise of more. Over the past three years I have tried to do all I can to repay the people of the Tees Valley who voted for me by delivering on my promises, which I have done.”

His other projects have included securing Government investment for the former SSI site at Redcar and plans for a logistics and manufacturing centre at Teesside Airport.

“The Tees Valley has made great progress in the last three years with more investment, more jobs and a confidence we haven’t had in our area for decades,” said Mr Houchen.

“People across the country are sitting up and listening to what we have to say. We have a seat at the top table, with direct access to Number 10 and key Government departments that can help the Tees Valley go further and faster to get the investment we need and deserve.

“Our region is once again standing tall. Our risk takers, our innovators and our entrepreneurs are securing the investment that is creating the good quality, well-paid jobs we all want to see created, now is not a time to put what we have achieved at risk.

“We’ve made great progress but there’s still more to do.”

Labour candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs has pledged to improve transport links across the Tees Valley, “remould” the High Street and champion “good quality jobs”.

The Northern Echo:

The Liberal Democrats expect to announce their candidate in mid-January. So far there have been no announcements from any other parties.