Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen 'biggest spender on Facebook ads'

Ben Houchen
Image caption Ben Houchen spent nearly £15,000 of his own money on the ads

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen spent more than any other UK politician on Facebook adverts in the last five months, figures show.

Although political parties and campaign groups spent more, the Conservative mayor spent nearly £16,000 on Facebook ads - three times more than Greenpeace.

The next biggest individual spender was West Midlands mayor Andy Street, who spent £2,552.

Mr Houchen paid for most of the ads himself, alongside the Tory Party.

Image copyright Colin George
Image caption The most recent airport ad said: "We've saved our airport from closure. Now the hard work begins to make it a success!"

New data from the Facebook Ad Library shows the page Ben Houchen - Tees Valley Mayor has been responsible for £15,700 worth of political advertising since 15 October.

Some £14,671 of that is listed as being paid for by Mr Houchen himself, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Mr Houchen is paid £35,800 a year as mayor.

He said that not "a single penny" of public money was spent on the ads.

The majority of Mr Houchen's adverts relate to his campaign to take Teesside Airport back into public ownership.

At the time of writing, the mayor had spent between £100 and £499 on the most recent advert which had reached between 100,000 and 200,000 people's Facebook feeds.

Image caption International flights began from the airport in 1966

Other adverts included several promoting the Rugby League World Cup, which will see Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium host a game in 2021, as well as a call for action on the former Redcar steelworks site.

Mr Houchen said: "I have the best job in the world, and part of that is promoting all the fantastic things that are happening in our area.

"It's important we shout about all the amazing things we are achieving as a region."

Since October last year, Facebook has been publishing data on spending on political advertisements.

If an ad is classed as political, the advertiser has to disclose who paid for it.

There was £1,029 of ad spending linked to the Ben Houchen - Tees Valley Mayor page which didn't disclose the sponsor.

Unlike a normal Facebook post, an advert allows you to target people who might not already like your page, and therefore reach more readers.

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