Labour takes control of Middlesbrough
Chris Cooke triumphed over the incumbent independent Andy Preston in the mayoral race, while Labour also secured 25 of 46 council seats.
In building its number of seats by five, Labour is in overall control of the council. Fifteen seats were claimed by “independents and others,” down from 23 before the election.
Cooke’s victory over the favourite Preston, by only 760 votes, raised immediate questions as to how the political relationship between the city leadership and that of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, led by Conservative Ben Houchen, will function moving forward.
On Friday, Houchen posted on social media his letter congratulating Cooke, in which he formally offered the incoming politician the board positions previously occupied by Preston, on the South Tees Development Corporation and the Middlesbrough Development Corporation.
Houchen said: “Though we may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, I am sure that we both want to see the best for the town and there is lots of shared work we can do to achieve this.”
Each of the other local authority areas in the Tees Valley – Darlington, Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees – are under no overall majority control
Cooke told the BBC of his determination to make Middlesbrough Council a “service-led organisation”, saying that children’s social care would get his full focus:
“It’s a very humbling process if I’m honest, these sort of things don’t always happen to people who come from my sort of background but it’s amazing that it has. If we don’t look after the most vulnerable in our society we are never going to make gains across the town.”
The mayoral election turnout was 27.8%.