Ben Houchen wins third term as Tees Valley Mayor with reduced majority

Conservative party candidate Lord Ben Houchen delivers a speech after being re-elected as the Tees Valley Mayor
Conservative party candidate Lord Ben Houchen delivers a speech after being re-elected as the Tees Valley Mayor -Credit:Getty Images

Ben Houchen said it was "a dream come true" after being elected Tees Valley Mayor for a third term.

It was a reduced victory for the incumbent mayor who secured 54 per cent of the vote (81,930), while Labour's Chris McEwan took 43 per cent (63,141) and Lib Dem Simon Thorley five per cent (7,679). Lord Houchen was elected as the region’s first metro mayor in 2017 and the Tory again conquered the red wall in 2021, romping home with more than 70 per cent of the vote.

Counts took place across the Tees Valley before the final result was announced at Thornaby Pavilion just before midday on Friday. The overall turnout was 30.8 per cent.

Celebrating the result, Lord Houchen told the Local democracy Reporting Service it was "a dream come true", "the greatest honour" and he felt "humbled and relieved". He thanked all those who had backed him for the past seven years and said he now planned to reflect over the weekend before "doubling down" on his work in the role.

In his victory speech, he said: "I am absolutely humbled by everybody that voted for me, Teesside is a place where I was born where I grew up other than a very short sabbatical to Newcastle for four years and then I came straight back. It’s a place where I’m going to be for the rest of my life. And to be re-elected for a third term in my home, in my community, is absolutely the greatest honour anyone could give me. Let's keep pushing for a better Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, let's deliver more jobs, more investment."

Lord Houchen had appeared keen to distance himself from national politics, insisting his only loyalty is to people in the region and urging people to judge him on his own record. But he denied he had not been campaigning as a Conservative or mentioning Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in his campaign literature during the contest.

He said "Rishi's been a huge supporter of Teesside over the last few years" and that the campaign had been a "shared effort", despite commentators suggesting he had tried to distance himself from the party brand.

"We wouldn't have been able to deliver all these things if it weren't for him so absolutely it's a shared effort, but again I'll work with anybody who will help me deliver for local people and Rishi is doing just that." He said he would work with anyone "to get what I need to get", including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer if he became prime minister.

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen (L) shakes hands with Labour's Chris McEwan
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen (L) shakes hands with Labour's Chris McEwan -Credit:Getty Images

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald said: “A 17% swing to Labour from the Tories in the Tees Valley election is extremely significant. That’s a real achievement and Chris McEwan can be very proud of his campaign. Whilst Labour made great strides in this election it sadly wasn’t enough to overhaul the significant majority of Lord Houchen.

"I want to thank the hundreds of Labour volunteers who campaigned so hard right across the Tees Valley, and we celebrate the return of Hartlepool Council to Labour control. These results bode well for the upcoming General Election, and they reinforce how people are moving away from the Tories.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will no doubt be heaving a huge sigh of relief as the Tees Valley was considered one of the key battlegrounds in the next general election, with Labour ahead in several national polls since the start of 2022. The 2024 elections were held this time under the first past the post voting system meaning voters indicated their preference for one candidate.

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