Conservative Ben Houchen clinched the post of elected mayor for Tees Valley – another sign that Labour’s hold in the north is massively weakening.
Although none of the five councils which make up the Tees Valley Combined Authority have Conservative control, Mr Houchen saw off Labour’s Sue Jeffrey, widely presumed to be the front runner, to win the post.
Mrs Jeffrey failed to win an outright majority of first preference votes. When the second preference votes of the eliminated third and fourth candidates – LibDem and UKIP – were counted, Mr Houchen emerged the winner with 48,578 votes to Mrs Jeffrey’s 46,400.
Teesside businessman and philanthropist Andy Preston, who has previously fought unsuccessfully to become the Independent mayor for Middlesbrough said: “The result means three precious things: a break with the cronyism of the past, an opportunity to challenge the establishment who run the area and the end of guaranteed power for a tired and confused political club.”
(This article has been amended to correct the party for which Mr Preston ran for mayor.)