A former Hartlepool Borough Council worker has thrown his hat into the ring to try and become Labour’s candidate for next year’s Tees Valley Mayoral Election.
Chris Barlow, who is currently a councillor for the Billingham North ward of Stockton, is hoping to win the party’s vote in the new year.
Mr Barlow was born in Hartlepool worked for the council, managing major regenerations programmes, between 1998 and 2006.
The 41-year-old was elected as a councillor 18 months, but feels he would be the ideal candidate to take on the role.
Mr Barlow, a dad of three, told the Mail: “I believe we need a Labour candidate from this part of the area, otherwise we run a real risk of resources being ploughed into the South Tees Development Corporation.
“I’ve previously worked on and managed a big employability programme across the Tees Valley area and I think that would help.
“It’s important that we have someone as mayor who understands exactly how this will work.
“Working in business myself, I’m not a normal politician so I’d be able to bring the skills from my professional work to the post.”
The Tees Valley Combined Authority was created on in April to drive economic growth and job creation in the area.
Acting as a body to receive devolved powers from central government, it aims to harness the powers of the Tees Valley’s five councils and the Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership to take partnership working between the public and private sector to a new level, creating an even more effective approach to building a stronger Tees Valley.
Mr Barlow added that he hopes to appeal to Hartlepool voters, having been brought up in the town.
“I was born in the town and lived here when I was younger,” said the associate director at ERS Research and Consultancy.
“I still have lots of friends in the town too and play football for the Stag and Monkey Over 40s team.
“But in all seriousness I know the people and the issues that they face.
“I also know the potential of the town and I think it’s important that we have a mayor who knows that.
“Hartlepool has a lot to offer that maybe people from outside the area don’t know about.
“In terms of policy, I think we need to look at the totally exploitative zero hours contracts as well as the privatisation of the NHS.
“The mayoral platform should give whoever is chosen the chance to look at that.
“We need to create more jobs and also upscale the workforce and I see this very much as an opportunity.
“The problem of child poverty is also something we need to improve as well.”
As well as Mr Barlow, Sue Jeffrey has been shortlisted by Labour to be the party’s candidate for the election.
All Labour party members will be able to vote for their candidate between November 28 and January 3.
The election is set to be held on May 4.