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Live Reporting

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  1. See the whole debate

    Duncan Leatherdale

    BBC News Online

    Thanks for joining us this morning. That's the end of our re-cap of the Tees Valley mayoral debate staged yesterday evening and broadcast on BBC One.

    The election will be held on 4 May.

    The full debate is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer and on BBC Tees.

  2. Jeffrey: 'I know my community'

    Sue Jeffrey said her role as leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and work as a housing professional responsible for regeneration and development qualified her to be mayor.

    She said: "I'm a resident of South Bank, I know about and work in my community. And I'm a mum and granny, of which I am very proud."


    Ms Jeffrey also dismissed fears the Tees Valley could become a "Labour cabal" if she were elected.

    She said: "It is about a partnership of local authorities, businesses and the people of Tees Valley standing together and fighting for the area. That's what I'm standing for."

  3. Foote Wood: 'We need all-party support'

    Chris Foote Wood said he is "not a modest guy" and knows his capabilities, adding he was the best-qualified candidate.

    He said he has been a council leader and knows the importance of all political parties working together.


    The Liberal Democrat said there is a heavy Labour presence in the North East and he believes a Labour mayor would be the equivalent of a "one-party state".

    Mr Foote Wood said: "To be successful, this needs to be run on an all-party basis."

  4. Tennant: 'I am the turkey voting for Christmas'

    John Tennant said he understands most "ordinary people" do not like the Tees Valley Combined Authority and do not want a mayor.

    He said his party, UKIP, promised the people an EU referendum and "we can do it again" in relation to the mayoral role.

    Mr Tennant said: "I have been involved in UKIP for a long time and we have always been turkeys voting for Christmas."

  5. Houchen: 'I know what is happening'

    Ben Houchen said he has "a lot of experience" as leader of the Conservative group on Stockton Borough Council.

    He said he knows the pressures councils face and the opportunities available to them.

    Mr Houchen said he has also started his own company, which now employs more than 20 people, and he used to be a solicitor so saw the social problems faced by his clients.

    He said: "I've got both the public and private experience of what is happening."

  6. Question seven: Why are you best for the job?

    The seventh and final question comes from Vic Walkington, who asked the candidates: "This is a new role that carries a lot of responsibility. What experience do you have that makes you best suited for this job?"

    The panel
  7. Foote Wood: 'Cheaper to renovate than build'

    Chris Foote Wood said he would want to emphasize renewing houses and "bring them up to modern standards" rather than building new ones.

    He said: "It's almost always better instead of knocking a house down to renovate it. It costs less and keeps people together."

    Mr Foote Wood also said "clearing slums" means breaking up communities.

    He said: "Let's keep the communities together by making sure housing is brought up to modern standards."

  8. Tennant: 'Renovate empty houses'

    John Tennant said he would want to see empty houses being brought back into use.

    He said that would solve some social housing problems and help people get on to the housing ladder.

  9. Houchen: 'Let's build a new town'

    Ben Houchen said he would want to build a "new town" in the area, which he would ask the combined authority to find viable sites for, as well as more affordable housing.

    He also said a proper local plan for the area needs to be drawn up to stop "towns being attacked by ad-hoc planning applications by developers".

    Mr Houchen added he would want to secure additional funding to "bring back into use brownfield sites".

  10. Jeffrey: 'Put the heart back into communities'

    Sue Jeffrey said housing areas need to be regenerated, which means investing money.

    She said: "It can't just be about building houses on greenfield sites. It's about putting the heart back into communities."

    "We need money going into proper regeneration."

  11. Question six: How will you improve homes?

    Question six comes from Yvonne Richardson, who is retired.

    Ms Richardson said: "Much of our older local housing stock is being bought up by profit-obsessed private landlords who have no interest in the community and don’t carry out repairs. 

    "What will you do to tackle this and ensure investment goes into our homes?"

  12. 'Transport services need to connect'

    Another man in the audience said connections between trains and buses need to be radically improved.

    He said: "I take the train every day from Saltburn to Middlesbrough for work. The trains are frequently late and were built when I was six, which is about 30 years ago.

    "There are no connections between train companies and buses."

    John Tennant said services should be integrated, while Chris Foote Wood said he is old enough to have a free bus pass which he uses frequently - but it is "no good if there are no buses".

  13. 'Airport shambles proves devolution need'

    The audience has been having its say again and feelings are obviously running high about Durham Tees Valley Airport.

    One man said getting permission for the homes has made the land more valuable and queried how a business could be persuaded not to submit further applications for housing which would be worth more.

    Another said: "The shambolic management of the airport is an example of why we need devolution."


    A third man said with the case of the metro the mayoral candidates should be "careful what they wish for" as there might be enough money to keep the system maintained properly.

    A woman from East Cleveland said too often issues of public transport are "being discussed by people who are not public transport users".

    She said she relies on buses, but after 17:00 it is "extremely difficult to travel around on a bus" which is "fundamental to people's quality of life".

  14. Jeffrey: 'Wouldn't pass airport cost on to taxpayer'

    Sue Jeffrey said she would not buy the airport and instead would invest in it to improve services.

    She said: "I wouldn't buy an airport that was losing £2m a year and pass that on to every single [taxpayer].

    "I will invest in the airport and turn it into the thriving international gateway we should have in the Tees Valley to grow our economy. 

    "I'm not doing Peel's job for them. I'm working in partnership with a major business."

    She was questioned about her involvement with the board of the airport and though admitting she "had an interest to make it successful", she said she had no "influence" over Darlington Borough Council's decision to approve the construction of homes next to the facility.

  15. Houchen: 'I would buy the airport'

    Ben Houchen said his plan is to buy Durham Tees Valley Airport from its owners Peel Airports.

    He said Peel are the "biggest problem" and their current plan only accounts for the next five years. He also said Peel, who claim they are losing £2.5m a year on the airport, were holding the five councils of the combined authority "to ransom" over pension payments which the authorites have agreed to cover.

    The debate chairman, Richard Moss, said Peel had said they want to carry on running services at the airport and questioned Mr Houchen about how he would buy the airport from them.

    Mr Houchen said a compulsory purchase would be a "last resort" but there are plenty of options available, for example "public private partnerships".

  16. Question five: What about the airport?

    Lee Kilcran, an environmental scientist and member of the North East Party, asked the candidates their fifth question.

    He said: "In light of recent controversy surrounding Durham Tees Valley Airport, what would the candidates do to ensure a viable future for our local airport beyond 2021?"

    Plans to build 350 new homes on land at the airport were recently given planning permission with the airport's owner saying they were losing £2.5m a year.

  17. Jeffrey: 'Projects already under way'

    Sue Jeffrey said several projects, such as improving freight rail links, are already under way thanks to the combined authority.

    She said it was important to get "public transport right" and added she would look at improving bus services.

    Ben Houchen said it was a "shocking idea" for the combined authority to be running a bus franchise.

    Ms Jeffrey replied the authority would not run services but rather work with the bus companies to improve selected services - thereby "improving the local economy."

  18. Tennant: 'A metro would improve the airport'

    John Tennant also said he wants to create a metro system in the Tees Valley area.

    He believes it could also improve the fortunes of Durham Tees Valley Airport - citing the impact the Tyne and Wear system has had on Newcastle Airport.

    He said a metro has previously been costed at about £220m and he would ask government for the money.

    Mr Tennant also said a metro system would boost job creation, adding: "We've got a captive workforce. We need a system to get them to work quickly."

  19. Foote Wood: 'We need a bridge and metro'

    Chris Foote Wood said he would want to create a metro system and a new road and rail bridge across the River Tees.

    He said: "To get people moving around we need a metro, but we can't have one in the Tees Valley because the River Tees is in the way. 

    "What we need is a link downstream. Let's have a road and rail link, a combined super bridge, and create a rail loop.

    "The metro is essential for getting people around quickly, cheaply and easily." 

  20. Question four: How will you improve transport?

    The fourth question comes from Abbi Hunton, an engineering student who said she often comes across transport problems when traveling from Darlington to Newcastle University each day.

    She said: "What plans do the candidates have for improving the local infrastructure and transport connections within the area?"