Can Metro Mayors work? A case study of Tees Valley 2017-2021

Smyth, Thomas R. (2021) Can Metro Mayors work? A case study of Tees Valley 2017-2021. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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This thesis covers a five year research programme into the establishment and first term of metro mayors within the United Kingdom.

Based on an initial analysis of the areas of which would be most likely to add to existing academic interest, add a unique contribution to the debate around mayoral governance, as well as personal knowledge of the key individuals and economic context, the geographic focus of the research is the Tees Valley. This is one of the smallest areas (by both population and area) covered by a metro mayor in England. The first incumbent of the post was (unexpectedly) a candidate from the Conservative party (Ben Houchen).

The research uses the ‘path dependency’ model to assess the economic and political impact of the mayoral governance model in the Tees Valley, as well as dealing with how the personal and political qualities of the mayor have led directly to economic consequences. Data for the latter was gathered by detailed interviews with economic and political leaders across the area, while the impact was assessed by analysis of the quantitative information available across a range of economic and political outcomes, as well as using the purchase of Teesside International Airport as a case study of the powers and funding available to the mayor. As part of the work on the economic indicators, I propose a new quantitative model for assessing the impact of mayors in the medium to long term, and discuss the use of comparator areas to smooth out country-wide economic impacts.

The research finds that the change in political leadership and governance in the Tees Valley represents a major evolution in its economic development and has had a significant impact on the funding availability and use within the area, as well as a dramatic impact on its political make up, and that these impacts have causes in both the powers available to and the leadership capabilities of the mayor. This increase in funding and economic prioritisation has not yet been translated into demonstrable better economic outcomes, although there are tentative signs of improvement across some education and employment indicators, relative to a control area.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ben Houchen, economic and political leadership, path dependency, mayoral combined authorities in England, toolkit for assessing impact of different leadership models
Subjects: L100 Economics
L200 Politics
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 19 May 2022 07:25
Last Modified: 19 May 2022 08:01

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