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Kim McGuinness elected North East mayor; Ben Houchen secures third Tees Valley term

Kim McGuinness is the new North East mayor.

The Labour candidate secured more than 185,000 votes to beat independent Jamie Driscoll to the flagship devolution title.

The former Northumbria police and crime commissioner will now spearhead the North East Combined Authority.

Spanning County Durham to Northumberland, the landmark Westminster power grab – said to be worth £4.2 billion – has a blueprint to create thousands of jobs and boost skills, housing and transport provision.

It has replaced the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the former North East Combined Authority.

Meanwhile, Ben Houchen has won a third term as Tees Valley mayor.

The Conservative candidate secured 53.6 per cent of the vote, beating Labour rival Chris McEwan into second – though his polling share was down 19.1 per cent on 2021’s election.

Speaking immediately after the poll was announced, mayor McGuinness said: “I’m honoured the people of the North East have put their trust in me; today, we finally begin taking power from Westminster and handing it to the people.”

The results have been welcomed by the region’s business community.

John McCabe, chief executive at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said he hoped the organisation could work with both elected leaders to “seize the moment” and drive change across the region.

He said: “The Chamber recognises the huge responsibility 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.

“On their behalf, the Chamber stands ready to work alongside Kim, her cabinet and team to ensure we create the stronger, fairer North East we all aspire to.”

He added: “In his first two terms and throughout this campaign, mayor Houchen has placed an emphasis on economic development.

“I hope, in his third term, we can work ever more closely to ensure the benefits of devolution are felt by all businesses and all communities across the Tees Valley.”

Sandra Manson, chair of Developing Consensus and executive director of Pegasus Group, said she hoped to work with mayor McGuinness to “maximise” the north of the region’s devolution future.

She said: “As a membership group representing more than 120 private and public sector organisations within the property and development industry, we are looking forward to building upon our positive working relationship with the North East Mayoral Combined Authority, so we can build a thriving development and investment market.”

Stephen Patterson, chief executive of Newcastle business improvement district company NE1, added: “Kim’s appointment signals a huge opportunity for Newcastle and the wider region.

“It is fantastic to see the local authorities coming together and working for the common good.

“We are optimistic the new mayor and combined authority will act as a major catalyst for change in the city, and will inject new dynamism, enthusiasm and momentum into regional projects that are already in train, as well as bringing new ideas and a clear vision for the city and the wider North East.”

Matt Bratton, acting regional director for the North East at business organisation CBI, said: “After a difficult few years for people and businesses across the area, there’s no time to waste in getting the regional economy firing once again.

“Delivering sustainable and inclusive growth must be at the very top of the new mayors’ ‘to-do’ lists.

“That means pressing ahead with key economic priorities including skills development and retention, supporting regional innovation and promoting our industrial strengths on the international stage.

“We also need to give serious consideration to how mayoral influence and collaboration can boost east-west connectivity, support industrial decarbonisation, and – working in partnership with business – address the acute socio-economic and health challenges faced by our region.”


Image: Christopher Owens

May 3, 2024

  • Business & Economy

Created by Steven Hugill