Who would be the North East's answer to Boris Johnson?

Greater Manchester is being offered a devolution deal on the basis it will have a directly elected mayor, but who might want the job in this region?

Durham Council leader Simon Henig
Durham Council leader Simon Henig

Power is being devolved to Greater Manchester and the city region will have its own directly-elected mayor. But who would be the North East’s answer to Boris Johnson?

Simon Henig

The Sunderland University lecturer is leader of Durham County Council and chairman of the North East Combined Authority. Beyond his work in the region, he is chairman of the Association of Labour Councillors and is considered within the party as a safe pair of hands and a unifying figure.

Nick Forbes

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Coun Forbes is also the Transport Lead for the North East Combined Authority and will be seen as the key figure pushing forward the Quality Contract Scheme for buses, a programme which could give authorities control over fares and services and looks set to be rolled out across the country in some form or another should Labour take power in May.

Alan Milburn

The highly-respected former Darlington MP stepped away from full time politics in 2010 and in 2012 was appointed as the chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. Would he now return to run as our mayor?

Chi Onwurah

The Newcastle Central MP is a strong advocate for the region and was promoted by Ed Miliband first to junior shadow minister for Business, Innovation and Skills and then to Shadow Minister in the Cabinet Office in 2013. Although tipped for the cabinet should Labour win in May, the MP may still be tempted by a mayoral role

Paul Callaghan

Chairman of the tourism and inward investment body the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative and former chairman of regional development agency One North East, he is another obvious candidate. He founded The Leighton Group and the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and led the formation of Business Link North East so will have support in the private sector

Paul Woolston

As the twice-elected chairman of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, the retired PwC partner would have support amongst the business community and has been key in setting out a strategic plan for the region. He also sits on the North East Leadership Board and has helped to drive forward the City Deals initiative.

Vera Baird, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria
Vera Baird, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria

Iain Malcolm

South Tyneside Council’s leader has called for the North East Combined Authority to join with councils in Teesside and, aside from sitting on a number of regional committees, was formerly Chief of Staff to the Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party.

Vera Baird

Police and Crime Commissioner for the Northumbria force, she is regarded across the country as having made a success of the role and, with the Greater Manchester Mayor expected to absorb the work of the PCC in the area, the former Solicitor General could be gifted the basis of a strong campaign. She lost her Redcar seat, however, to the Lib Dems with a huge swing after the closure of the Teesside Steelworks on her watch and whether ambitious Labour colleagues would block her standing could also be a stumbling block

Paul Watson

The former shipwright and leader of Sunderland City Council chairs the Association of North East Councils and represents the region on the Local Government Association. The law graduate is also elected to the Committee of the Regions, which advises the European Commission and the European Parliament, and has been an independent voice on the entirely-Labour North East Leadership Board

Cllr Lord John Shipley OBE
Cllr Lord John Shipley OBE

Nick Brown

The Labour MP served as the first Minister for the North East from 2007 to 2010 before the job was scrapped by the Tory-led Coalition. The former Chief Whip has recently told how a minister is needed “in the room” with the Prime Minister to make the case for the region. The MP could be a powerful candidate for the mayoral role, if he is able to stand for the role in addition to his current duties in Parliament.

Lord Shipley

The Lib Dem peer and former Newcastle City Council leader has overseen Regional Growth Fund delivery in the region and helped to draw up the City Deals plan, experience which would make him the party’s key choice


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