2024 marks a historic year for the North East, with the upcoming election of a new regional mayor who will play a key role in shaping our region’s future.

That figurehead will lead a new combined authority that stretches across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and Durham and will represent around two million people.

The multi-billion pound devolution deal negotiated with the Government for the North East hands the mayor significant funding and decision-making powers that the region has not held before, such as the ability to take public control over bus services.

Ahead of the mayoral election on May 2, we have asked all six candidates the same 10 questions to give voters a sense of both their policies and their personalities.

READ MORE: 10 questions with Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Aidan King

Here, Tory candidate Guy Renner-Thompson has his say on creating jobs, his favourite pubs, and improving school standards.
Why should people care about the North East mayoral election? The North East has been leading Britain for centuries. Our new devolution deal, delivered by our Conservative Government, is the next chapter in our long story.

The deal unlocks over £4.2 billion of investment and transfers power from London to local leaders like me with real knowledge of what our communities need and want. The mayor will have massive powers over taxes and spending on important areas like transport, housing and the economy. But just as importantly they will be the figurehead for the region who will travel the world touting for business for the North East.
If you could do one thing as mayor to improve people’s lives, what would it be? Jobs, jobs and more jobs. There is no better way out of hardship for families than secure, well-paid employment. The devolution deal is 48 pages long but it can be summed up in four words. Make. North. East. Richer. My whole plan revolves around making the region the home of the jobs of the future. We’ve seen the Tees Valley under Ben Houchen power ahead of the rest of the North East in job growth. We need a strong leader too who will focus our economy.
What is your favourite place in the North East, and why? Any pub that sells Guinness. The people are the best thing about the North East and there is nothing I love more than sitting in a pub on a weekend with friends or strangers putting the world to rights.
What is (or was) your day job outside of politics? I have my own small building company. I started it in 2019 doing house renovations and now we’re building new-build homes. I project manage and jump on the tools when needed but as we get bigger, I rely more and more on the fantastic self-employed tradesmen we have in the region. Being self-employed means I’m lucky enough to have the time to take part in politics, and it shapes my policies like grants for small businesses and being against the Clean Air Zone charges.
What is your proudest achievement in your political career so far? As the councillor responsible for education in Northumberland I’ve overseen our schools climbing the league tables. When we took over the council from Labour in 2017 only 76 per cent of schools were being rated ‘Good’ or ’Outstanding’. Now that figure is 95 per cent. I’m really proud of this because a good education is the foundation for young people to have a good start in life and, in some cases, break the cycle of families who might have been on benefits for more than one generation.
Other than becoming the North East Mayor, what would your dream job be? I spent my teenage years in the Army Cadets and I always wanted to go into the Army or the Royal Navy. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 17 which scuppered that. I love travelling, so my dream job now would be a pilot or a ship’s captain.
Who is your role model in life?  My dad.
If you could ban one thing in the North East, what would it be? I don’t like banning things, people should be allowed to get on without endless preaching about how they should live their lives. I will always take more powers from London but never seek to take them away from people and their local communities.
If you could erect a statue somewhere in our region, who would it commemorate? Sir John Hall. To be the son of a miner from Ashington to go onto build the Metrocentre and own and be a driving force in Newcastle United. That makes him a role model for young boys and girls across the North East that says we can be successful and make it in the world.
If you didn’t win the mayoral election, which of the other candidates would you most like to win? None of the above. Only I have the plan and vision to push the North East forward and realise our full potential.