Ben Houchen today (Monday 6th January) launched his campaign for re-election as the Tees Valley Mayor during a speech at AV Dawson in Middlesbrough, with a bold pledge to bring steelmaking back to Teesside.
In 2017 Mr Houchen was elected as the first ever Metro Mayor for the Tees Valley in a shock victory for the Conservatives that took political pundits by surprise.
Since then Mayor Houchen has spearheaded economic development across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, which has seen more investment and thousands of jobs created for hard-working local people. Mayor Houchen has also secured £360million in new money from the Government for the Tees Valley, including £137million for the former Redcar steelworks site so that work can begin to make the site ready for private sector investment.
Mayor Houchen said: “Over the past 3 years the Tees Valley has made great progress with more investment, more jobs and a confidence in ourselves as a region that we haven’t had for decades.
“People are sitting up, listening to us and taking our region seriously for the first time in a generation. We have a seat at the top table, with direct access to Number 10 and key Government departments that can help the Tees Valley go further and faster to secure the investment that we need and deserve.
“Our region is once again standing tall. Our risk takers our innovators and our entrepreneurs are securing the investment that is creating the good quality, well-paid jobs we all want to see created, now is not a time to put what we have achieved at risk.
“We’ve made great progress but there’s still more to do. Let’s keep moving forward and making progress instead of going back to the same old failed ways of the defeatist, pessimistic attitudes that have held this region back for years.”
At the centre of Mayor Houchen’s victory in 2017 was his pledge to take back control of our airport by bringing it back into public ownership and saving it from closure.
At the time many people said the commitment could not be delivered, but in March 2019 Mayor Houchen was handed the keys to our airport, along with 819 acres of land for commercial development.
Soon after Mayor Houchen delivered on another election pledge and restored the much-loved name of Teesside International Airport. Then in December 2019 Mayor Houchen announced that he had secured a £200 million, 10-year, investment that could create 4,400 jobs on the airport site through the development of a state-of-the-art manufacturing and logistics park.
The Tees Valley Mayor has now made an even bolder pledge, to bring steelmaking back to Teesside.
Speaking before a crowd in Middlesbrough, Mayor Houchen said: “We need to take control and take our destiny into our own hands. Teesside steel built the world, and it will do again.
“We can’t rely on civil servants or national Governments. We can do this, and I will make it my mission to make Teesside a world leader in steelmaking again. I can already hear the naysayers, the doom mongers and the pessimists.
“I can hear the same defeatist attitude from my opponents. Why do you want to do this?
You’re just saying it to get votes. It can’t be done!!! You know what, they said the same thing about the airport and I delivered! They can say what they like.
“This is my promise to the people of the Tees Valley. If elected, I will bring steelmaking back to Teesside and I’ll restore our rightful place as a global leader in the steel industry.”
Mayor Houchen promised to announce more of his election manifesto in the coming weeks.