Labour has announced their candidate to fight Ben Houchen to be the next Tees Valley Mayor.

Darlington Council Deputy Leader and ex-NHS executive Chris McEwan will take on Mr Houchen for Labour at the mayoral elections in May.

Cllr McEwan, who grew up in Middlesbrough and has lived in Darlington for more than 30 years, secured the most votes of party members in a ballot.

Labour say he is passionate about the area and “has the energy, integrity, experience […] and the right plan” to transform the Tees Valley.

Speaking after his selection, Cllr McEwan claimed he was the man to deliver a “fresh start”.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Chris McEwan.Chris McEwan. (Image: PR)

He said: “It’s an absolute honour to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Tees Valley Mayor. I grew up in Middlesbrough and have lived in Darlington with my family for over 30 years.

“Tees Valley made me who I am today, and I know its best days are ahead.

“But after 13 years of the Conservatives prices are up, people across our region are struggling and the NHS is at breaking point.

“I want to create a Tees Valley where everyone can share in success and our natural environment is protected. I know by working together we can unlock Tees Valley’s potential.

“I’ll implement a Clean Growth Guarantee, creating a new era for the Tees Valley, leading us toward green innovation and the jobs of the future.

“I’ll create a better connected Tees Valley by taking control of our bus network and improving transport links. And I’ll make sure nobody is left behind, by developing a comprehensive skills and workforce plan, focused on giving our young people the opportunities they need.

“We need a fresh start, and I’ll deliver it.”

He beat the only other shortlisted candidate Luke Henman to secure the candidacy.

Voters across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool will head to the polls in May.

Incumbent Tory Mayor Ben Houchen will be hoping to secure a third term in office. In March he was reselected to stand and has reaffirmed his commitment to the role despite being made a lord in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours. It means Mr Houchen now also sits in the House of Lords.

He became the first mayor in 2017 and was re-elected with 73 per cent of the vote in 2021.