2021 Tees Valley mayoral election

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For details of all candidates see the article
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Ben Houchen in York (cropped).jpg
Jessie Joe Jacobs Labour Candidate.jpg
Candidate Ben Houchen Jessie Joe Jacobs
Party Conservative Labour
1st Round vote 121,964 45,641
Percentage 72.8% 27.2%

Tees Valley Mayoral Election 2021.svg
Map of the results by local authority

Incumbent Mayor

Ben Houchen

The 2021 Tees Valley mayoral election was held on 6 May 2021 to elect the mayor of Tees Valley on the same day as other local elections across the country. The mayor was elected by the supplementary vote. The election was originally due to take place in May 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1]

Conservative incumbent mayor Ben Houchen was seeking re-election, with Labour candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs challenging him.


The mayor serves as the directly elected leader of the Tees Valley Combined Authority and has powers considered lesser than those of other mayors such as Greater Manchester and the West of England. The mayor has power over an annual £15 million investment from the national government over a 30-year period, as well as control over adult skills training, social care and a consolidated transport budget- giving the ability to acquire bus services.[2] The mayor does not supersede or overrule the five boroughs within the Tees Valley city-region.[3][4]

At the previous and first election for the mayor of Tees Valley in 2017, the Conservative Party candidate Ben Houchen won with 51.2% of the vote in the second round, with a turnout of 21%.[5] This victory was seen as a surprise since Tees Valley has traditionally been seen as a Labour stronghold.[6][7] Some saw Houchen's victory as evidence that the Conservatives were going to do well in the following election,[8][9] others described it as a "warning shot" at Labour from their voter base.[10]

The urban think-tank Centre for Cities looked at the results of local elections in Tees Valley for 2018 and 2019 to make a prediction of the result and found Labour had suffered considerable losses, giving the Conservaties an advantage.[11] Following the 2019 general election, the Centre for Cities also assessed the Tees Valley constituencies results and found the Conservatives polled 44% across all Tees Valley constituencies, whilst Labour polled 41%.[12]

It was announced in March 2020 that the mayoral election was delayed to May 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.[13]

Electoral system

The election used a supplementary vote system, in which voters express a first and a second preference for candidates.[5]

This means that the winning candidate has the support of a majority of voters who expressed a preference among the top two.[14]

All registered electors (British, Irish, Commonwealth and European Union citizens) living in Tees Valley aged 18 or over on 7 May 2020 were entitled to vote in the mayoral election. Those who are temporarily away from Tees Valley (for example, away working, on holiday, in student accommodation or in hospital) were also entitled to vote in the mayoral election. The deadline to register to vote in the election will be announced nearer the election.[15]


Conservative Party

Ben Houchen, the current mayor, launched his re-election campaign on 6 January 2020.[16]

Labour Party

Jessie Joe Jacobs was announced as the Labour Party candidate for the city-region. Jacobs is the founder of the charity A Way Out in Stockton[17][18] and created a media project that taught ordinary people skills to report news called “We Are Our Media”, which created a citizen newspaper called the Eclipse.[19] Jacobs received endorsement from all seven local parties in the area, five trade unions and the Co-operative party.[20]

Dan Smith, an engineer and staffer for Paul Williams, Labour's former MP for Stockton South, also applied; however, he was not shortlisted.[20][9]

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats decided not to stand a candidate in the 2021 election,[21] despite declaring an intention to do so prior to the election's postponement.[10]


The incumbent mayor Ben Houchen launched his initial campaign for this election – prior to its delay – in January 2020, emphasising on investment in the steel industry in Tees Valley.[22] On 9 February it was revealed Houchen was in talks to purchase the former steelworks site in Redcar, which closed in 2015 when Sahaviriya Steel Industries's UK wing went out of business.[23]

Labour's candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs launched her campaign at the Hartlepool College of Further Education. Her core pledges for this election are to tackle mental health across the city-region where suicide rates are high, to build a new vocation centre in all five boroughs, to start a high street innovation fund to help fill closed down retail spaces[24] and to improve transport. She advocated expanding bus and rail services in the city-region over the next ten years. This includes restarting the Tees Valley Metro project, which was stopped in 2010.[25] Additionally, she is supportive of building a new bridge to improve transport between Hartlepool and South Teesside to help relieve pressure on the A19 and A66.[26][27] Jacobs has planned to bid to host the Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a government proposed festival with £125 million prepared for it, in 2022, branding it as the "Festival of Teesside".[28]

On 10 November 2019, Jacobs was critical of the price Houchen arranged for Teesside Airport, which Houchen's administration had taken into public ownership, saying that the previous owner received much more than she would have allowed, considering they wanted to get rid of it.[18] Furthermore, on 11 February 2020, Jacobs was critical of Ben Houchen's lack of transparency over subsiding flight routes out of Teesside Airport rather than expanding bus routes around the city region.[29]

A hustings organised by Centre for Cities, the Institution of Civil Engineers and Teesside University was due to take place on 23 April 2020 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In January 2021, internal party polling by the Labour Party found that Houchen had a strong lead over Labour, with The Guardian reporting that the poll showed Houchen winning outright with 66% of the vote.[30]

Opinion polls

Graph of opinion polls conducted
Pollster Client Date(s)
Houchen Jacobs Others Lead
Con Lab
Election 6 May 2021 72.8% 27.2% 45.6%


The Times 19–26 Apr 2021 971 63% 37% 26%
YouGov Labour 1–8 Jan 2021 ? 66% 34% 32%
Election 4 May 2017 39.5% 39% 21.5% 0.5%


2021 Tees Valley Mayoral Election vote share map by local authority.
2021 Tees Valley Mayoral Election vote share map by local authority.
2021 Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ben Houchen 121,964 72.8 Increase33.3
Labour Jessie Joe Jacobs 45,641 27.2 Decrease11.8

By local authority


2021 Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ben Houchen 19,876 74.5 Increase32.6
Labour Jessie Joe Jacobs 6,799 25.5 Decrease7.2


2021 Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ben Houchen 21,257 72.6 Increase45.8
Labour Jessie Joe Jacobs 8,023 27.4 Decrease7.8


2021 Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ben Houchen 17,748 68.6 Increase33.7
Labour Jessie Joe Jacobs 8,141 31.4 Decrease16.1

Redcar and Cleveland

2021 Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ben Houchen 24,663 75.0 Increase39.6
Labour Jessie Joe Jacobs 8,236 25.0 Decrease19.4


2021 Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ben Houchen 38,420 72.7 Increase25.0
Labour Jessie Joe Jacobs 14,442 27.3 Decrease8.3


  1. ^ "Local elections postponed for a year over coronavirus". BBC News. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Tees Valley". Centre for Cities. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  3. ^ "What the Mayor Does". Tees Valley Combined Authority. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Directly elected mayors". Local Government Association. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Mayor of the Tees Valley". BBC News. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Labour just lost a previously unthinkable mayoral election to the Tories". The Independent. 5 May 2017. Archived from the original on 5 May 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Conservatives win Tees Valley mayor race". BBC News. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  8. ^ Lynch, Russell (2 February 2020). "Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen: 'Become an MP? I've got much more influence'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  9. ^ a b Cain, James (2 January 2020). "Details on the two elections being held on Teesside in 2020". Teesside live. Reach plc.
  10. ^ a b Cain, James. "Elections for Tees Valley Mayor and Cleveland Police Commissioner this spring". The Northern Echo. Newsquest. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  11. ^ Jeffrey, Simon; Bell, Owen (10 October 2019). "What do the local elections tell us about the upcoming metro mayor elections?". Centre for Cities. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  12. ^ Jeffery, Simon (17 December 2019). "2020 vision — What does Thursday's vote mean for May's Metro Mayor elections". Centre for Cities. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  13. ^ Metcalfe, Alex (13 March 2020). "Coronavirus sees Teesside mayoral and police chief elections delayed". TeessideLive. Reach plc. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  14. ^ Elledge, Jonnk (2 May 2012). "London Elections: How The Voting System Works". The Londonist. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  15. ^ "What is the Supplementary Vote? | Nudge Factory". Nudge Factory. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  16. ^ Staff Reporter (6 January 2020). "Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen launches campaign for re-election". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  17. ^ Brown, Mike (21 July 2019). "Charity leader wants to be Labour's opponent for Mayor Ben Houchen". TeessideLive. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  18. ^ a b Brown, Mike (10 November 2019). "How Jessie Joe Jacobs became political after meeting sex worker, 15". TeessideLive. Reach plc. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  19. ^ Pidd, Helen (6 February 2020). "Labour selects Liam Byrne as West Midlands mayoral candidate". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  20. ^ a b Rodgers, Sienna (9 October 2019). "Jessie Joe Jacobs selected as Labour's Tees Valley mayor candidate". Labour List. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  21. ^ Arnold, Stuart (20 March 2021). "Liberal Democrats explain lack of involvement in Tees Valley mayoral election". Teesside Live. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Tees Valley Mayor launches re-election campaign vowing to bring back steelmaking to Teesside". ITV News. 6 January 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  23. ^ Pidd, Helen (9 February 2020). "Tees Valley confronts Thailand over future of Redcar steelworks". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  24. ^ Payne, Mark (15 February 2020). "How Labour's Tees Valley Mayor candidate plans to save our high streets". Hartlepool Mail. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  25. ^ Cain, James (2 March 2020). "Labour candidate promises Tees Metro rail and bus system if elected". Teesside live. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  26. ^ Metcalfe, Alex (22 January 2020). "Trio of pledges as Jessie Joe Jacobs launches campaign to be mayor". Teesside live. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  27. ^ Scott, Jim (22 January 2020). "Labour Mayor hopeful pledges better transport links and 'opportunities'". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  28. ^ Metcalfe, Alex. "Plans to draw a million visitors to new Teesside festival". The Northern Echo. Newsquest. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  29. ^ Metcalfe, Alex (11 February 2020). "Teesside Airport: Dublin, Belfast and London flights are being subsidised by taxpayers". The Northern Echo. Newsquest. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  30. ^ "Labour failing to win back enough Tory voters, officials warn". The Guardian. 27 January 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2021.