As Mayor, Ben is accountable to and represents around 670,000 people across all five Tees Valley boroughs. Ben’s primary role is to steer the work of Tees Valley Combined Authority – the body that drives economic growth and job creation in the area.
The Combined Authority is not a “super-council” or another version of Cleveland County Council – the five Tees Valley councils continue to exist in their own right, delivering local services and meeting the day-to-day needs of residents. The Mayor and Combined Authority have not replaced, nor can they overrule, local councils.
In exchange for more powers and control over local budgets, as part of a Devolution Deal for the region, Tees Valley agreed to elect a Mayor who would act as a single point of accountability – to both local people and central Government. Devolution means having more control over how and where we spend the money we have. It means we can design services and find ways of working that better meet the needs of Tees Valley and the people that live, work and invest here. It also means we can boost our economy and reinvest money back into the region to where it is needed most.
Ben is able to make some decisions independently, but others involve consultation with, and approval of, all five leaders of Tees Valley’s local councils. Some decisions need unanimous support, others need a majority.
The job of the Mayor ranges from setting budgets and priorities for economic development to acting as an ambassador for our region to attract inward investment. He is responsible for a £588million Tees Valley Investment Plan covering business growth and inward investment; transport; education, employment and skills; culture and tourism; research, innovation and development and towns and communities.
The Mayor is also involved in the running of other Tees Valley Combined Authority Group organisations.
He is the Chair of the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) Board. STDC is the first Mayoral Development Corporation outside of London. It has been set up to promote the economic growth and commercial development of Tees Valley by converting assets in the South Tees area into opportunities for business investment and economic growth.
The STDC area covers approximately 4,500 acres of land to the south of the River Tees, in the Borough of Redcar and Cleveland, and includes the former SSI steelworks site as well as other industrial assets. The area benefits from river access and includes the deep-water port of Teesport.
For more information on the South Tees Development Corporation, see southteesdc.com.