What does Ben do? What are his powers?
As Mayor, Ben is accountable to and represents almost 700,000 people across all five boroughs in the Tees Valley. Ben acts as Chairman of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) – the body that drives economic growth and job creation in the area. His Cabinet is made up of the Leaders of Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, and Hartlepool borough councils.
The job of the Mayor ranges from setting the budget and priorities for economic development, transport, infrastructure and skills, to acting as an ambassador for our region to attract inward investment. The TVCA has an Investment Plan totalling £464 million up until 2021. This will be spent on local priorities, determined by local elected leaders - including the Mayor.
Ben is also the Chairman of the South Tees Development Corporation, the first Mayoral Development Corporation outside of Greater London. Covering a 4,500 acre site in Redcar - including the former SSI steelworks site - the Mayoral Development Corporation has significant powers and finances available to kick-start economic development. Locally-led from Tees Valley, the Development Corporation Board has published a masterplan which aims to create 20,000 jobs over the next 25 years, adding £1 billion per annum to the local economy.
What is the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA)?
The Mayoral Combined Authority is purely focused on delivering economic growth for the wider Tees Valley area. Its powers and money come directly from central government, not from local councils.
The TVCA is able to carry out responsibilities previously decided by central government. There are similar bodies in other areas of the country which have secured devolution, including Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the West Midlands, who also elected a Mayor in May 2017.
In exchange for more powers and control over local budgets, the Tees Valley agreed to elect a Mayor who would act as a single point of accountability – to both local people and central government.
Devolution means having more control over how and where we spend the money we have. It means we can design services and find ways of working that better meet the needs of the Tees Valley and the people that live, work and invest here. It also means we can boost our economy and reinvest money back into the region to where it is needed most.
Ben is able to make some decisions independently, but others involve consultation with, and approval of, all five leaders of our local councils in the Tees Valley. Some decisions need unanimous support, others need a majority.
What makes the TVCA different to a local council?
The Mayoral Combined Authority is not a ‘super-council’ or another version of Cleveland County Council – the five Tees Valley councils continue to exist in their own right, delivering local services and meeting the day-to-day needs of residents. Your local council will still be responsible for delivering local services such as children’s services, social care, refuse collection, libraries, street cleaning etc.
The Mayor and Combined Authority do not replace, nor can they overrule local councils.
Is this just another layer of bureaucracy?
No, this is a transfer of decision making from London to Tees Valley. It means that more decisions can be made locally to achieve a better outcome for local people, and to seize opportunities in our local economy.