Congratulations to Cllr Ben Houchen who has been selected as the Conservative Party’s candidate for the Mayor of Tees Valley. The election will take place on May 4th next year for the Tees Valley Combined Authority which is made up of Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool and Darlington.
Cllr Houchen, 30, is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Stockton Borough Council. He was selected after impressing a meeting of party members from across Tees Valley with his plans for “change where it’s needed and continuity where it works”.
A Teesside man, he attended Conyers School in Yarm before studying law at Northumbria University. He is married to Rachel, a secondary school teacher.
He was elected to represent Yarm and Kirklevington on Stockton Council in 2011 and again in 2015, contested the Middlesbrough parliamentary constituency in the by-election that followed the death of Sir Stuart Bell, and stood as a candidate in the 2014 elections to the European Parliament.
Cllr Houchen says:
“Next year’s election will put Tees Valley at the centre of the action as one of only four Northern Powerhouse devolved areas, and the only one with a Mayor-led Development Corporation. As Mayor I will pursue a simple political strategy of continuity where it works, change where it is needed.
“The impressive Tees Valley Strategic plan and the early work being undertaken by the shadow South Tees Development Corporation provide an excellent starting point. The plan places business growth as its number one priority. Given that I run a growing business that relies on Tees Port to connect with the world I agree that we need more new businesses and our existing businesses need to become larger and more successful.
“The Mayor will be taking office at a time of great opportunity for the area. Unemployment is falling, the number of new businesses is rising and big new projects such as Peak Minerals and Sirius are investing in the area. The new arrangements will mean the Mayor can veto expensive or unworkable proposals and the Mayor’s ideas can only be passed if a majority of the council leaders agree. Having sensible people from both parties on the new Combined Authority will force local politicians into a formidable consensus.
“That consensus will only be possible with a Conservative Mayor, electing Labour will mean Tees Valley becomes a one party state. As a Conservative Mayor I will also provide a critical brake on costs, preventing the Combined Authority growing into an expensive and cumbersome bureaucracy.”
This sounds to me like a sensible and robustly Conservative pitch. Of course it is not the easiest territory for us. But after this year who is going to be too emphatic about predicting any election result?