Newcastle entrepreneur Charlie Hoult has announced his bid to be the Conservative candidate in the race to become the first North of Tyne mayor.
Mr Hoult, owner of a successful business village in the city, Hoults Yards, said the region needed ‘projects not politics’ and that he had entered the race to ‘get stuff done’.
Born in Gosforth and now living in Northumberland, the father of four said his election themes would be ambition, community and opportunity.
“I’ll be pushing to deliver impact projects, not divisive politics. That’s my background – in local regeneration and cheerleading for tech in the region.
“As England’s North East mayor, I would want to stand for our region alongside Birmingham’s Andy Street, London’s Sadiq Khan and Manchester’s Andy Burnham to strike deals with Westminster that accelerate our industrial strategy.
“I’ve worked with regional thinkers in business, public sector and charity to plan how to make the most of North East devolution and have learnt so much about regional development, strategy and politics.
“I will leverage the lessons of leading the tech sector through Dynamo North East over the last few years to spark up £100million in skills initiatives.
“I will apply those winning ways to the May 2 election and hope people will vote for me and help me to deliver impact projects, not divisive politics.
“As a region we are in a good place, we’re on a roll – new Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport figures have said the North East is the fastest growing region for digital in the UK, we’ve got great tourism and manufacturing.”
He added the region should use Brexit as an opportunity, saying: “Every door that closes, another door opens, and I feel we should make the most of Brexit. I voted for Brexit and I think we should just get on with it.
“I don’t believe we should take a no-deal Brexit off the table, although I would like a deal. I don’t believe we should have a second referendum because I don’t believe it will help anyone.”
Charlie ran his own marketing company in London between 1994 and 2008 before returning to the North East to take on the family business.
As well as owning and running Hoults Yard, he is chairman of regional IT champions Dynamo North East, which he co-founded. He is also chairman of successful IT company Opencast Software and helped set up insurance company, Cheviot Insured.
The decision on who will represent the Tories in the May 2 election is likely to finalise the line-up for the ballot paper.
Left-winger Jamie Driscoll defeated Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes for the right to stand as Labour’s candidate, while the Lib Dems announced their candidate – John Appleby – before Christmas.
John McCabe, who runs Fusion PR in Blyth and has been serving as president of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, is running as an independent, while the Green Party has confirmed that it will not be putting forward a candidate.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service