1. Governance
June 21, 2017

Ben Houchen is now tees Valley mayor. So what’s in his inbox?

By Jonn Elledge

The latest instalment of our weekly series, in which we use the Centre for Cities’ data tools to crunch some of the numbers on Britain’s cities.

Think back to those heady days of early May, when Britain still had a functioning government and Theresa May stood atop the political stage like a colossus, and you may recall that we had another set of elections: local ones in which, among other things, six English regions elected their first mayors. Unlike what happened five weeks later, the Tories won those ones handsomely.

One of their unexpected victories came in the Tees Valley region – Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington and so forth.  Labour’s Sue Jeffrey had put together a thoughtful prospectus for the region, considering the future of its transport, housing and economic development policies – but she’ll never get to implement any of that, because she lost by 49/51 to a Tory who promised to nationalise the airport and disband the local police. Go figure.

Anyway. Ben Houchen is Tees Valley mayor now – so what’s in his inbox? Let’s check out the charts.

As ever – the city region is in green, national averages are in grey.

Having done a few of these now, we’re starting to spot some patterns. For example: Tees Valley is another region where qualification levels have lagged the national average:

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So have school standards:

Apprenticeship starts, though, are above the national average. That too is pretty common in regions with larger than average numbers of unqualified residents.

There are more familiar patterns in the economic data. Jobs growth has been slower than the average:

The employment rate is lower:

And, as you’d expect given the above, earnings are lower, too:

One way in which the region is slightly unusual is in the make up of its exports. Its goods exports per job are around the national average – but its service exports are less than half.

Click to expand, baby.

Houchen, one suspects, wasn’t quite expecting to win this election: few observers expected a region including Middlesbrough to return a Tory mayor and, with the best will in the world, his lack of manifesto suggests a limited preparation for the job.

But he’s there now – and no doubt keen to make an impact. If he were to do one thing, we’d suggest, it’s this: for heaven’s sake sort out the region’s bus network, because really this is terrible:

Click to expand.

You can find more data on the Tees Valley, and indeed other city regions, on the Centre for Cities website.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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