WE are astonished and dismayed that Jamie Driscoll is being prevented from being considered as Labour’s candidate for the North East mayoralty.

To exclude a politician of Jamie’s calibre and commitment represents a monumental own goal. Jamie has already proved to be an outstanding Mayor for the North of Tyne.

Be it campaigning with other northern mayors to put pressure on Westminster, or working on a cross party basis and with trade unions and communities, Jamie has always put the people of the North East first.

Jamie’s drive and leadership in negotiating a devolution deal for the North East is widely acknowledged and as trade unionists we know that Jamie is firmly on the side of working people. He has stood with workers on the picket line and he has stood with trade unionists in their campaigns for better wages, jobs and services.

Working people need a strong voice like Jamie.

We are calling for common sense to prevail and for Jamie to be given the opportunity to stand in the selection to be Labour candidate for North East Mayor.

Mick Lynch, General Secretary, RMT; Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF; Dave Ward, General Secretary, CWU; Matt Wrack, General Secretary, FBU; Brian Harris, North East Regional Secretary, FBU; Sarah Woolley, General Secretary, BFAWU; Bob Monks, General Secretary, URTU; Fran Heathcote, President PCS (signed in a personal capacity); Dr Jo Grady, General Secretary, UCU (signed in a personal capacity); Steve Gillan, General Secretary, POA (signed in a personal capacity); John Hall, Dan Lister & Lester Russell - North East Region National Executive Members, NASUWT; Dr David Baines, Newcastle Branch Secretary, NUJ.