A Hartlepool councillor who is standing as UKIP’s candidate for the upcoming Tees Valley Mayoral Election says he will give voters the chance to do away with his role if he is elected.
John Tennant launched his campaign to win the role at the town’s Grand Hotel, with polling day now less than a month away.
Backers of the authority say it will help to move decision making from Whitehall and Westminster to the North East as well as increasing investment in the area.
But Coun Tennant says if is handed the role, he will immediately seek to hold a referendum on the existence of the body, adding that the public should be given a chance to support the idea first.
“This election should not be taking place,” said Mr Tennant.
“I don’t believe that this combined authority is something that people want.
“They want better governance and Tees Valley Combined Authority is nothing more than an artificial body, masquerading as devolution.”
He added that he and other UKIP members feel organisation will be a repeat of Cleveland County Council, something which will not improve Hartlepool and the lives of its residents.
“A combined authority may sadly take powers away from the local level over time that helps no-one, but career politicians and bureaucrats,” he said.
“But politicians should fear people.
“I would argue that the combined authority carried no credibility or legitimacy.
“There are four candidates who are standing for this role but only one is prepared to ask the people if they want this or not.
“That’s because the others see this as a career move.”
Coun Tennant, who currently serves Jesmond ward on Hartlepool Borough Council, did however add that if he is elected and a referendum on the authority returned a vote in favour of keeping the body, he would focus on housing, jobs and transport for the area as his main priorities.
“Housing is a major issue in this area,” he said.
“Right To Buy has decreased social housing stock significantly so that there isn’t enough.
“We must tackle this ticking time bomb.
“If a referendum was a yes, I will implement these polices and I will try to make it work.”
Coun Tennant was supported by UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott, who said: “People all across UKIP have been working hard for Hartlepool and it makes a difference to local people.
“I’m sure John will be a fantastic candidate who will provide some very positive views.”
The election is being held on May 4.
Also standing are Chris Foote Wood, Liberal Democrat, Ben Houchen, Conservative Party and Sue Jeffrey, Labour and Co-operative Party.