THE Tees Valley Combined Authority has always been an interesting beast, headed by a Conservative mayor whose seven-person cabinet includes the leaders of the sub-region’s five councils, who are all Labour.

Mayor Ben Houchen is the most powerful individual but he could by stymied at any turn by the Labour majority.

Thankfully, from the outside at least, it appears that since Mr Houchen was surprisingly elected in May 2017, party political differences have been put to one side and the authority has got on with working on behalf of the whole area.

However, that political honeymoon could not last for ever. There will be another mayoral election in May 2020. Mr Houchen will stand on his record; his main opponent will be Labour – perhaps even one of his own cabinet members – who will inevitably say that Mr Houchen’s record is not good enough and that he, or she, could do better.

It appears that the row over the Budget marks the end of the honeymoon, with Mr Houchen holding up Chancellor Philip Hammond’s £14m for the former steelworks site as a triumph but Labour saying that it is nowhere near the £200m that they believed had been requested. An independent figure close to the row told us: “They are both right and they are both wrong in their own ways.”

So it is a political bust-up which is all down to interpretation.

Although it may sound naïve, we hope that the row can be put to one side and that the area can have another six months or more of working together to achieve good progress for the region before the electioneering squabbling really takes over.

A potential outside investor won’t really care about who is right and who is wrong. He will just see them arguing about the rights and the wrongs like drunks outside a late night parmo shop and take his investment elsewhere.