Local elections are often snubbed. People often don’t see the importance. But they should. On the 4th May the Tees Valley votes for their mayor and every vote matters. With central government devolving powers to the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, the combined authority will be granted a £450 million budget to spend over the next 30 years on our area; equivalent to £15 million per year. In this post I’ll introduce you to the candidates and hopefully encourage you to #GoVote!
Why do we need a mayor?
Each authority within the combined authority already has a mayor (e.g. Dave Budd for Middlesbrough) so many people are questioning the need for an extra mayor. This new role, however, will cover three main areas as well as being a figure head for the funding coming from central government as mentioned earlier.
The three main roles are as follows;
Firstly and perhaps most importantly, they will be an ambassador for the whole Tees Valley region. They will hopefully encourage people to move to and visit the area by providing a thriving job market and exciting tourism opportunities.
Secondly, they will have direct control over issues such as transport infrastructure & business support.
Thirdly, they will have a more strategic role making decisions which affect the wider region.
All sounds pretty important if you ask me.
What will not be included in the new mayor’s job role are as follows;
- Children’s Services
- Social Care
- Refuse Collection
- Parks & Open Spaces
These areas will still be controlled by your local council so you know who to ring when your bin isn’t emptied. Joking aside, you can quickly detect the pattern in how different roles are designated between local and combined authority councils with the latter focused on the region as a whole.
Meet the candidates
There are currently four main candidates running for the Tees Valley mayor; each backed by their respective political parties. They are as follows;
Sue Jeffery, Labour
Sue’s manifesto includes five main points covering a variety of issues including job growth, education and the creation of a ‘high pay’ economy. She hopes to deliver a Tees Valley living wage of £8.45 an hour and reduce our dependence on foreign investment which is something, in my opinion, is important as we start the inevitably tumultuous ‘Brexit’ negotiations.
Chris Foote Wood, Liberal Democrats
Although Liberal Democrats have lost a lot of ground as a party, Chris Foote Wood is determined to create a better Teesside. He would like to see a combined rail and road bridge built across the river Tees providing an “icon” for the Tees Valley redevelopment. He has also spoken out against the planned building of 450 houses next to Durham-Tees Valley airport which would restrict any future development of the airport.
Ben Houchen, Conservatives
Ben has spoken strongly about his plan to ‘buy back” Durham-Tees Valley Airport, making it “great again” (sorry for the Trump rhetoric). He is also committed to looking at the structure of Cleveland police as he believe it has failed both the residents AND front line police officers of the region.
John Tennant, UKIP
The UKIP candidate is keeping to UKIP tradition by calling for a referendum. He wants the people of Teesside to decide if we even want to have a mayor; believing it is pointless and adding “another layer of bureaucracy”. Looks like the United Kingdom Irrelevance Party is keeping to it’s name. Sorry, not sorry.
Whilst I believe in the power of democracy, I am personally a bit gutted that no real independent has stepped forward and championed the people of Teesside regardless of political alignment. It may work out for the best, however due to the high importance of the role. We can’t be taking any risks.
How can you vote?
The deadline for registering to vote is 13th April so if you haven’t already here is a link to the website. Once registered you will be sent a poll card before 4th May. This will include details of where your polling station is. It’s important! #GoVote!
I have tried to stay as impartial as I possibly can but hey what’s the point in having an opinion if you can’t use your platform to voice it?
Here are some amazing pictures of our region to really get you passionate about the area in which we live and why I want to encourage as many people as possible to #GoVote! …
Hope you enjoyed this post!