Metro Mayor, Tees Valley
Ben Houchen is the Metro Mayor of the Tees Valley. He qualified as a solicitor in 2009 and practised corporate law, commercial law and commercial litigation for six years before running his own business. He was UK & European CEO of an international sportswear company. He was also leader of the Conservative Group on Stockton Borough Council from 2014 to 2017. He was elected as the first Mayor of the Tees Valley in 2017 and was re-elected in 2021 with 73% of the vote. He currently continues to serve as the elected Mayor. In his first term, Ben successfully delivered his manifesto pledge to save Teesside Airport from closure and is continuing to deliver the 10-year Rescue Plan for the airport. He holds a number of other roles, including as Vice Chairman of Transport for the North which is a sub-national statutory body with responsibility for improving transport and transport infrastructure across the North. He was also responsible for establishing the first Mayoral Development Corporation (South Tees Development Corporation - Teesworks) outside of London, second only to the Olympic Park, which was set up for the 2012 Olympics. The Development Corporation is responsible for the regeneration of the largest brownfield site in western Europe, which has attracted billions of pounds in foreign direct investment and is creating thousands of manufacturing jobs in industries like offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon, capture and storage. He has also helped to deliver national policies to help level up the country, including being one of the architects of the UK's Freeport policy. As a result, he was able to establish the UK's first and largest freeport: the Teesside Freeport. He also worked closely with Government to bring the newly established Treasury Economic Campus to Darlington, which is the premier home for the Treasury outside of London. He is currently a commissioner on the UK Hydrogen Policy Commission and he is also a Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, which promotes the need to level up the country by closing the North South divide by spreading opportunity and wealth more evenly across the country.