North East Mayor election: Everything you need to know including who is standing

As parties announce their candidates for the first North East Mayoral election, we've put together a list of who is standing.
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As the North East gears up for a historic year of politics, parties are revealing their candidates for the first ever North East Mayor election.

The new political role marks the culmination of a long saga relating to a devolution deal for the North East.

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The deal means there will be major funding and decision-making powers handed down from the central government in Westminster.

As we head towards the election period, we've put together a guide for everything you need to know about the North East Mayor election.

From top left: Kim McGuinness, Guy Renner-Thompson, Jamie Driscoll, Paul Donaghy (bottom left), Aidan King and Andrew Gray. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.From top left: Kim McGuinness, Guy Renner-Thompson, Jamie Driscoll, Paul Donaghy (bottom left), Aidan King and Andrew Gray. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
From top left: Kim McGuinness, Guy Renner-Thompson, Jamie Driscoll, Paul Donaghy (bottom left), Aidan King and Andrew Gray. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

When is the election?

The election will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2024, which is the same day as local elections taking place in some areas of the UK.

One of those areas will be Tyne & Wear, with Police and Crime Commissioners also up for election on the same day.

Who is standing for election?

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At the time of writing on Thursday, January 18, six candidates have announced that they will be standing to become the North East's first regional mayor - these include:

Kim McGuinness (Labour)

The Labour Party's pick for its mayoral candidate is Kim McGuinness, who is the current Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

The former Newcastle city councillor has promised to end child poverty in the region, drive green energy investment in the North East's ports and rivers, build new railway infrastructure and take bus services back into public hands.

Jamie Driscoll (Independent)

The current North of the Tyne Mayor was the first to announce his intention to stand for the new political role.

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Mr Driscoll had hoped to be Labour's candidate but was controversially blocked from doing so due to an appearance he made on stage with film director Ken Loach.

He has pledged to create a 'Total Transport Network', which includes an expanded Tyne and Wear Metro and public control over bus services, boosting employment across the region in the process.

Guy Renner-Thompson (Conservative)

A member of Northumberland County Council's cabinet, Guy Renner-Thompson saw off opposition from Sedgefield MP Paul Howell by become the Conservative Party's nomination.

Mr Renner-Thompson, who lives in Bamburgh, has promised to abolish the Newcastle Clean Air Zone if elected mayor - with local councils insisting he would not have the power to do.

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His other pledges include a promise not to put any new mayoral precept on North East residents’ council tax bills, improving the standard of schools across the region, and support for the dualling of the A1 in Northumberland.

Aidan King (Liberal Democrat)

Junior doctor Aidan King will represent the Lib Dems during May's election.

Dr King is another former councillor in Newcastle and he currently works at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

The North East Mayor role will not have powers over the region's healthcare, but Dr King has made supporting the NHS as one of his top priorities.

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His other policies include building the UK's largest on-shore windfarm and to deliver three new, small development plots in “every town and village” in the region to encourage housebuilding.

Andrew Gray (Green Party)

Andrew Gray has been an active Green campaigner in Newcastle for many years and lives in the Heaton area of the city.

Mr Gray has stated that his top priority if elected would be retrofitting houses to make them warmer and cheaper to heat.

His manifesto is also expected to include improvements to public transport and to put communities in control of the mayor's resources.

Paul Donaghy (Reform UK)

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Paul Donaghy, the Washington South councillor, was recently named as Reform UK's candidate for the historic election.

He was elected to Sunderland City Council as a Conservative in 2021, before defecting to Reform in January 2023.

Mr Donaghy has promised to “put the people first, not party political point scoring or favouritism”.

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What areas will the elected mayor cover?

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The mayor will head a new North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) which will cover County Durham, Gateshead, Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

It means that the mayor will represent a population of around two million people.

The new devolution deal will see the North of the Tyne Combined Authority and the existing North East Combined Authority abolished to make way for the new one.

What will be the big electoral issues?

Given we are just under five months away from polling day, the North East Mayoral election campaign is still very much in its early days.

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However, this will be ramping up in the coming months and there will be some big issues on the agenda which all candidates will need to address.

These big issues are set to include:

  • Climate change and how the region can reach net zero in the coming years.
  • Housing retrofit programmes and jobs in renewable energy.
  • Clean air zones and low traffic neighbourhoods.
  • The region's transport network, including roads and public transport.