Local business leaders took one of the first opportunities to hear the views of the confirmed candidates for Tees Valley Mayor at a Question Time-style event at the Materials Processing Institute, in Middlesbrough.
Taking part in the Q&A session were candidates Sue Jeffrey (Labour), Ben Houchen (Conservative), John Tennant (UKIP) and John Tait (North East Party).
Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute, chaired the event, which provided the confirmed candidates with an opportunity to reveal their vision and strategy for business and the future of Tees Valley, ahead of May’s election.
Among the issues raised by the audience of Tees business leaders were how candidates could attract inward investment to the region, how they would support new businesses and encourage existing SMEs to flourish, and what they would do to improve local transportation systems and infrastructure.
The election, which takes place on May 4, covers the local authorities of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Darlington.
We asked each of the candidates what, in brief, their business priority would be if they were elected Tees Valley Mayor. Here are their answers:
Ben Houchen (Conservative)
“Access to investment for SMEs and start-ups would be my business priority. The lack of ease of access to funds can cause businesses to stagnate.”
John Tennant (UKIP)
“My business priority would be the Tees Valley light metro system which would bring all kinds of skills and the introduction of training for the next generation of apprentices.”
Sue Jeffrey (Labour)
“To create an economy that works for everybody.”
John Tait (North East Party)
“Driving infrastructure to allow goods, services and people to move effectively around the region.”
Chris McDonald added: “I would like to thank the candidates for participating and everyone for attending the event, which was very informative for many of the region’s key opinion formers and business leaders.
“The role of Tees Valley Mayor will have huge significance for business and infrastructure across the region, and I am delighted that we were able to play host to an event of this importance, while providing the candidates with a platform to argue their case.”
• Look out for a feature on the Tees Valley mayoral election is the Spring issue of Tees Business, due out in the first week of March.