“LEVELLING UP” is a great promise. It was a major part of the reason that voters in the December 2019 election in the Tees Valley and County Durham felt able to lend Boris Johnson their votes as the red wall came crashing down.

Sixteen months on, a start has been made with a freeport offering potential for a new generation of jobs on Teesside and the creation of a Treasury hub in Darlington not only transplanting 750 jobs out of London but also offering the potential to change the mindset of government.

But it is only a start. It must go broader and deeper than that.

So far, the targets of “levelling up” haven’t really been defined: does it mean levelling up the historically poor levels of transport spending that have blighted the North-East and North Yorkshire for years, or does it mean levelling up on life expectancy which is nearly three years shorter in our area compared to the south-east?

At the moment, our area is in the political spotlight like never before: the Tees Valley mayoral contest is gaining more attention than that in London, the Hartlepool by-election is the most important in 30 years and even the council elections in Durham will show how deeply “levelling up” is catching on.

The premiership of Mr Johnson, who is the author of “levelling up”, is itself in crisis, so we know that the political bandwagon will one day move on.

Whoever wins Thursday’s elections must therefore seize this moment and make sure that the Government lives up to its promise to level up.