Last week, Newcastle businessman Charlie Hoult declared that he was running to be the Tory candidate when the combined authority area, made up of Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle councils, goes to the polls on May 2.
But it was revealed today that he will not be unopposed in next Thursday’s selection by the party, as Linda Arkley has announced that she too is seeking the nomination.
Having served two terms as Elected Mayor of North Tyneside – from 2003 to 2005 and 2009 to 2013, she said: “Today is International Women’s Day. I am choosing today to publicly announce that I am seeking the Conservative nomination to be the North of Tyne mayoral candidate.
“I am the only woman to be in the race. In a field of men seeking support, today is about the message that a woman’s place is running the Home of Ambition.”
Meanwhile, her opponent Mr Hoult yesterday received the backing of renowned North-East businessman and former Newcastle United owner, Sir John Hall, who admitted he had considered running himself.
Sir John, who now lives in Lesbury, said: “I gave long and serious consideration to standing for mayor, but I concluded the role needed a younger man and as soon as Charlie told me he was up for it, I was behind him.”
Mr Hoult said: “Sir John is a legend in the North East and has helped shape the region. We need people involved with the North of Tyne mayoral role who have been successful and have big ideas and big ambition – no one fits that bill better than Sir John and I’m delighted to have his full support in my bid to be Mayor.”
Already on the ballot paper are Labour’s Jamie Driscoll, John Appleby for the Lib Dems and independent John McCabe, who until recently was president of the North East England Chamber of Commerce. The Greens have confirmed they will not be putting up a candidate.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service