A potential candidate for the mayoral position within the new Tees Valley combined authority insists his existing commitments means it’s “unlikely” he will stand – but warned against choosing a “career politician” for the crucial role.
An elected mayor for the region is to be confirmed under a ground breaking devolution deal to be announced by the Government.
But businessman and charity leader Andy Preston said his work with Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, together with other charity, business and family commitments would make it difficult to find the time to campaign for the role.
Mr Preston ran as an independent for the role of Middlesbrough mayor earlier this year, losing out to Labour’s Dave Budd by just 246 in a recount of 38,000 votes.
But he does not think he will run this time around.
He said: “I’m very flattered that a number of my supporters have asked me if I will be standing as Tees mayor.
“But I honestly don’t think it’s for me right now, as I’m working on some rewarding and very time-consuming projects, whilst I also have a young family, so I genuinely don’t think I have the time to commit to an election campaign.”
Middlesbrough-born Mr Preston continued: “This is a golden opportunity for our towns to wake up, work together and start competing with the likes of Newcastle and Leeds.
“So the right mayor is a new kind of leader who, when they see the steel works failing, would start acting to try to save them before they close, not after.
“We need someone who has the brains and passion to see it coming. Someone who can stop another SSI situation happening to our region.”
Insisting the Tees region needs “a genuinely fresh start”, he added: “We need a mayor with a track record outside of politics, who can offer a new way of doing things and won’t get bogged down by the bureaucracy of local politics.
“The Tees area lags behind the rest of the country in too many areas and has done so for years. So we need someone new and hard hitting, who has passion, ability and high standards, to come in to what will be a vital role.
“We need someone with genuine business acumen – and yet the rarest of skills among local politicians is the ability to make money rather than spend it.
“But I have to say quite bluntly that our councils and politicians clearly do not have the skills to win investment, help create jobs and bring prosperity.”