North East mayoral elections: register to vote and save the date!

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On 2nd May 2024, the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) will hold elections for the North-East mayor following nearly
20 years of often unsuccessful negotiations for a devolution plan in the region.

The NEMCA will bring together seven North-East local authorities Northumberland, Newcastle- upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, and Durham. Following its formation, the two bodies that currently govern the North East – the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the non-mayoral North East Combined Authority – will be dismantled.

The new devolution agreement, known as NEMCA, was signed in December 2022 and will take effect in May 2024, following the election of the new mayor. The mayor will be elected for four years and will lead the Cabinet, which will include seven elected representatives from each Constituent Council, known as Voting Members. There are two more non-voting members: the Chair of the Business Board and a representative from the Community and Voluntary Sector.

The NEMCA will bring together seven North-East local authorities Northumberland, Newcastle- upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, and Durham

The Labour Party’s candidate for North-East Mayor is Kim McGuiness, the Police and Crime Commissioner of Northumbria Police. Ms McGuiness was chosen from a list of two candidates, the other being MEP Paul Brannen. She claims to have a vision for the North with putting an end to child poverty being her primary concern.

Guy Renner-Thompson, the Conservative Party’s candidate, is now a councillor in Northumberland and wants to remove the Newcastle Clean Air Zone as one of his mayoral decisions.

Jamie Driscoll, who previously served as Mayor of North Tyne, has expressed a willingness to run independently in the 2024 elections. His choice to run as an independent candidate arises from the controversy surrounding a stage appearance with director Ken Loach, which prevented him from becoming Labour’s candidate in 2024.

Andrew Gray, a Green Party candidate, now works as an archivist at Durham University. He stated that his top objective as mayor would be to remodel the houses to make them warmer and cheaper to heat. He also stated that he intends to improve public transportation and involve local communities in the decision-making process regarding the mayor’s available resources.

While certain challenges, such as decarbonisation and ongoing climate concerns, are long-term and future-oriented undertakings, others are concerned with transportation networks and socioeconomic disparities between the North and South

The Reform Party candidate will be Paul Donaghy who was elected as a member of the Sunderland City Council in 2021 as a Conservative, before leaving the party in January 2023. In his manifesto, he promised ‘to put people first, not party political point scoring of favouritism’.

Finally, Dr. Aidan King was selected to represent the Liberal Democrats in the forthcoming election. He previously served as a Newcastle city councillor and is now a junior doctor at the Royal Victoria Infirmary. His aims as mayor include improving healthcare and building the UK’s largest on-shore wind farm in the North East.

The candidates have some time before the election to consider the major difficulties they will face as mayors. While certain challenges,
such as decarbonisation and ongoing climate concerns, are long-term and future-oriented undertakings, others are concerned with transportation networks and socioeconomic disparities between the North and South. Furthermore, they must think outside the box and design solutions that combine the urban and rural areas of the vast NEMCA territory.

Register to vote https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Image: Ian Robertson via Flickr

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