A Durham student’s guide to voting in the 2024 North East mayoral election

The election will take place on the 2nd May 2024


On Thursday, 2nd May, many of you will be heading down to the polling station to cast your vote in the 2024 North East mayoral election, a pivotal event that will shape the future of County Durham and the wider region.

This election not only marks a significant milestone in regional governance, electing the first ever Mayor of the North East, but also offers an opportunity for local communities, including Durham students, to engage deeply with the democratic process and influence the direction of local policy and development.

Here’s what you need to know about the candidates, their platforms, and how to make your vote count.

What are the key issues?

The newly established North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) will oversee critical regional matters, controlling a £48 million annual investment fund dedicated to budgets for housing, transport, education, and skills training. The Mayor will also manage significant devolved powers from the government, aiming to improve the region’s economic landscape and address local needs.

How can you vote?

  • Eligibility: If you’re registered to vote in local elections within one of the seven constituent councils of the North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, or Sunderland), you’re eligible to vote in this election.
  • Election Information: An election booklet, which includes details about the candidates and voting procedures, will be distributed to all registered voters. You can also access this information online through the North East Combined Authority’s official election website.
  • Voting Process: Make sure your registration details are up-to-date. If you’re a student living away from home, you may need to arrange for a postal or proxy vote if you won’t be in your registered area on election day. Remember to bring a form of photo ID.

This election is pivotal as it marks the establishment of the NEMCA, aiming to drive significant changes through devolved powers and funding. Engaging with this election allows students to have a direct impact on the future governance and development of the region where we study.

1. Jamie Driscoll (Independent):

Background: Previously elected as the North of Tyne Mayor in 2019 as a Labour candidate, Driscoll is running as an independent in this election after a controversial exclusion from Labour’s candidate list.

Platform: Driscoll has emphasised green industry initiatives as a pathway to full employment in the region. His policies focus on sustainable development and leveraging the region’s industrial heritage in new, environmentally friendly ways.

2. Kim McGuinness (Labour):

Background: Currently serving as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, which covers Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.

Platform: McGuinness’s campaign likely focuses on public safety, effective policing, and community engagement, given her background. While specific mayoral campaign pledges are not detailed, her experience in public administration and crime prevention will influence her policy priorities.

3. Guy Renner-Thompson (Conservative):

Background: A Northumberland county councillor with responsibilities for children’s services and education.

Platform: Renner-Thompson’s campaign may focus on education reform and family services, drawing from his council experience in managing education and children’s services.

4. Aidan King (Liberal Democrats):

Background: An NHS doctor at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and a former city councillor.

Platform: With a medical background, King is likely to prioritise healthcare, public health policy, and community wellbeing in his campaign.

5. Andrew Gray (Green Party):

Background: An archivist at Durham University, bringing an academic perspective to the race.

Platform: Gray’s candidacy will probably emphasise environmental issues, education, and access to public resources and archives.

6. Paul Donaghy (Reform UK):

Background: A councillor on Sunderland City Council, recently defected from the Conservative Party.

Platform: Donaghy’s campaign may focus on reforming local governance, enhancing transparency, and issues specific to Sunderland and the wider region, reflecting his recent political shift.

Each candidate brings a distinct set of experiences and priorities, reflecting the diverse needs and opportunities within the North East region. Their platforms address various regional challenges from industrial growth and employment to education, public safety, and environmental sustainability.

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