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Local elections 2024: Mayor of Tees Valley

The third election to the post of mayor of Tees Valley took place on 2 May 2024.

An airplane landing at Tees Valley airport.
An airplane landing at Tees Valley airport. The Tees Valley Combined Authority has used some of its funding to take public control of Teesside Airport.

On 2 May 2024, Ben Houchen was elected for the third time as mayor of Tees Valley winning a total of 54% of the vote. Houchen leads the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA), which controls a budget of £356m.

What was the result of the 2024 Tees Valley mayoral election?

Lord (Ben) Houchen was the winner of the May 2024 Tees Valley mayoral election. He represents the Conservative Party and was previously elected to the post in May 2017 and May 2021. Prior to becoming mayor, Houchen was a councillor on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. 19 Andrew White, ‘Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen to contest 2024 election’, The Northern Echo, 29 March 2023,


Houchen’s highest share of the vote was 57% in Stockton-on-Tees, and his lowest was 48% in Middlesbrough. 

The turnout across the region was 31%, lower than the 2021 election where turnout was 34%. 20 Tees Valley CA, Tweet, 3 May 2024,

The Labour candidate was Chris McEwan, deputy leader of Darlington Borough Council 21 Morgan Jones, ‘Labour candidate for Tees Valley mayor: Chris McEwan picked to fight Houchen’, Labour List, 7 November 2023, retrieved 19 March 2024,  who secured 41% of the vote, and the Liberal Democrats’ candidate was Simon Thorley, who won 5%. 22 Tom Burgess, ‘Simon Thorley announced Lib Dem Tees Valley Mayor candidate’ The Northern Echo, 31 January 2024, retrieved 19 March 2024,  

What is the history of devolution to the Tees Valley?

Government and local leaders in Teesside agreed a devolution deal in October 2015, leading to the creation of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). This deal transferred functions from Whitehall to the new combined authority, including over transport, skills and investment. As part of the deal, local leaders agreed that the combined authority would be led by a directly elected mayor. Devolution went live in May 2017, at the time of the first mayoral election. 

What is the Tees Valley Combined Authority? 

The TVCA was established as a legal entity in April 2016 and is empowered to take collective strategic decisions across local authority boundaries.  

The TVCA has seven members. These include the mayor, who chairs the authority, and the leaders of the five constituent local authorities: Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees. The seventh member, who has no voting rights, is the chair of the Tees Valley Business Board.

All five councils in the region are led by Labour, although only in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool does the party hold a majority, as well as holding the separate post of Mayor of Middlesbrough.

The total population of the area covered by the TVCA is around 700,000.

Local and mayoral elections 2024

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Voting count council workers counting papers

What are the powers of the mayor and TVCA?

The powers and responsibilities of TVCA and the metro mayor are focused on transport, investment, regeneration and skills.

TVCA has developed a strategic economic plan setting out the long-term priorities for growth and investment within the region. This includes a focus on supporting green industry and zero-carbon energy, such as offshore wind and carbon capture technologies. 

The combined authority controls a long-term investment fund and transport budget. It has used some of this funding to finance transport infrastructure projects such as new road crossings across the river Tees, upgrades to local rail stations, and taking public control of Teesside Airport. undefined Tees Valley Combined Authority, Tees Valley Investment Plan 2019-29, January 2019,

The mayor also has powers over regeneration including the ability to establish mayoral development corporations (MDCs), with the consent of the local authority in which the MDC will operate. Houchen created three mayoral development corporations, covering areas in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, and Redcar and Cleveland.

Since August 2019, the TVCA has been responsible for the 19+ adult education budget (AEB), enabling it to develop a skills strategy that fits the needs of the local labour market. In the 2022/23 financial year, TVCA received £30m of funding from the Department for Education for its AEB allocation. undefined Tees Valley Combined Authority, Tees Valley Investment Plan 2019-29, January 2019,

Why did the government set up an independent review of the Teesworks development area?

Controversy arose over the South Teesside Development Corporation – set up to regenerate the former Teesside Steelworks site and nearby brownfield land in Redland and Cleveland. Labour MP for Middlesbrough Andy McDonald accused the site of “industrial-scale corruption” after land at the site was alleged to have been transferred to private developers for just £97 in December 2022. undefined Tees Valley Combined Authority, Tees Valley Investment Plan 2019-29, January 2019,  Houchen strongly denied these allegations. undefined Tees Valley Combined Authority, Tees Valley Investment Plan 2019-29, January 2019,  

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove announced an independent investigation in May 2023. The inquiry report was published in January 2024, and found no evidence to support allegations of corruption or illegality, although it did conclude that there were a number of governance and transparency issues that needed to be addressed. 26 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘Independent review report: South Tees Development Corporation and Teesworks Joint Venture’, GOV.UK, 29 January 2024, retrieved 19 March 2024,

What is the TVCA’s budget? 

In 2024/25, Tees Valley Combined Authority has a projected expenditure of £356m. 27 TVCA, Adoption of Investment Plan, Budget 2024-25 and Medium-Term Financial Plan, 26 January 2024, retrieved 26 March 2024,  Transport spending (both capital and revenue) accounts for £131m (37%) of this spending, with an additional £13m (4%) set aside for concessionary fares. ‘Business growth’ accounts for £46m (13%), which includes town centre regeneration schemes and business support services. A further £42m (12%) is allocated to the ‘education, employment and skills’, which includes the devolved adult education budget.

Funding primarily comes from government grants, including an annual £15m investment fund allocation and big transport and skills grants. TVCA is also expected to borrow £75m and use £55m of its reserves. It receives a small amount of income from retained business rates and has the ability to apply a mayoral precept on council tax bills, but Houchen has not sought to use this power since taking office in 2017. 28 Alex Metcalfe, ‘Tees Valley Mayor vows no rise in combined authority tax until 2024 at the earliest’, Teesside Live, 31 March 2022,

TVCA Expenditure

How is the combined authority structured?

TVCA employs an officer team to support the political leadership of the authority and implement the decisions of the combined authority board.

The officer team is led by a chief executive, legally designated as the ‘Head of Paid Service’. Senior staff also fill two other legally required roles – the monitoring officer (responsible for ensuring decisions are lawful) and the Section 151 officer (responsible for financial management).

As of June 2023, 185 staff were employed by the Tees Valley Combined Authority, including the wider TVCA group (Teesworks and the Tees Valley Airport). This makes TVCA the third smallest combined authority. 

How does Tees Valley compare to the rest of the UK in terms of social and economic outcomes?

The TVCA region lags behind the national average across several core economic indicators. Economic productivity and gross median weekly pay are both below the UK average, and while there is variation across the local areas, only Stockton-on-Tees exceeds the UK average in terms of productivity.

The region also underperforms in terms of employment and skills in all regions except Darlington. In Tees Valley, only 56% of 1664 year olds have a level three qualification, compared to 61% across the UK. Likewise, 73% of 1664 year olds are employed, below the national average of 76%. 

The Tees Valley region has a lower male healthy life expectancy than the UK average. Men in the region on average live almost 59 healthy years compared to the national figure of 63 years. In Redcar and Cleveland the figure is 57 years. Public transport use to get to work is highest in Midldlesbrough (23%) but both it and the region (20%) lag behind the national average of 28%.

How does the TVCA area overlap with other administrative boundaries? 

Tees Valley is covered by one NHS integrated care board: NHS North East and Cumbria, which extends significantly beyond the boundaries of the combined authority.

However, the TVCA area isn't aligned with a single police force area: Cleveland Police serves Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees; Durham Constabulary serves Darlington and as well as County Durham. The overlap with two different police forces means that the mayor of Tees Valley cannot also hold the position of police and crime commissioner

United Kingdom
Metro mayor
English Regions
North East
Combined authorities
Tees Valley Combined Authority
Institute for Government

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