Andy Preston Standing for Mayor
By fmttm
Monday 25 Mar 2019 13:00:00
Browse all GENERAL INTEREST articles

Businessman and charity leader Andy Preston has promised to fight to bring jobs, investment and a new era of openness to the town’s politics after announcing he is standing in the Middlesbrough mayoral election.


Four years ago Linthorpe-born Mr Preston narrowly missed out as Labour’s Dave Budd instead became the town’s second directly elected mayor after the election went to a dramatic second round.


Since then he has continued to be one of Middlesbrough’s most vocal and highest-profile champions, working and investing in the town and raising millions of pounds for local charities.


Until today he had refused to say whether he would throw his hat into the ring, but after being increasingly encouraged by friends and supporters, he confirmed at a launch meeting at Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium that he will stand as an independent candidate in the poll, which takes place on Thursday May 2.


Mr Preston left school at 16 with almost no qualifications. After time in the RAF he built a hugely successful career in international finance running multi-billion pound investment funds


He returned to his roots in 2008, doing charity work and creating business interests including the successfully restoring buildings like Kirby College and the iconic former National Provincial Bank, now renamed Boho Four.


He has also backed a number of start-up business, especially in the tech sector, as well as launching and running three charities, Middlesbrough & Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, CEO Sleepout and the Fork in the Road charity restaurant.


Most recently he created the 30,000-sq ft Level Q office space in Stockton, one of the best facilities of its kind in northern England.


Mr Preston – who unveiled the slogan “Let’s build a better Boro” at the Riverside launch – says Middlesbrough is a special place that has the potential to do much better than it has in recent years.


“Our town has so much going for it but has been held back for far too long by narrow party political loyalty, self-interest and an alarming lack of genuine vision and business know-how,” he said.


“While I’ve been able to let Level Q to a range of local, national and international businesses, Middlesbrough Council has only been able to find one tenant for its own flagship office development in Centre Square – and unbelievably, that’s themselves!


“This is just one of the many areas in which the people of Middlesbrough are currently being let down.


“I firmly believe I have the experience, skills, passion, energy and commitment to make a real difference and help forge a brighter future.”


Mr Preston believes the election will come down to a straight choice for voters between him and Labour councillor Mick Thompson, who has been named as the party’s candidate.


Although he was once a Labour member himself, he believes it doesn’t make sense to fight national party political battles at a local level.


“At the moment we have a Labour MP, a Labour mayor, a Labour-controlled council and even a Labour police and crime commissioner,” he said.


“That’s not just unhealthy, it’s downright dangerous. It means that instead of challenging each other as they should, they close ranks, protect their pals and try to convince us that only they are qualified for political office.


“But more and more people are becoming convinced that old fashioned party politics have no place in the town hall.


“That’s why I’m also backing the many independent candidates standing in wards throughout the town, who I hope will help me break the Labour stranglehold and usher in a completely new kind of politics that works for everyone.


“Last time I stood, my opponents ran a highly personal campaign, throwing as much mud as they could at me in the hope that some of it would stick.


“I expect them to try to do that again but I believe people will see through such tactics.


“I intend to rise above it, do lots of listening to Middlesbrough people and keep talking about real issues and holding Labour’s shocking record up to scrutiny.”

If elected, Mr Preston has pledged to create safer streets by tackling crime and antisocial behaviour, attract real investment, protect Middlesbrough’s green spaces and preserve the town’s heritage.


He said: “Middlesbrough’s greatest asset is its people – they’re warm-hearted, welcoming, hard-working and incredibly resilient.


“The qualities that built the world are still here in abundance and I believe that together, with the right leadership, we can create a truly world-class town.


“I’ve spent so much of the last four years talking to people across all sections of society and from every walk of life, listening to their hopes and dreams and their worries and concerns.

“But so many of them tell me that they feel that nobody else is listening to them – and that has to change.


“If I’m elected, I’ll put my trust in the people, standing up for their interests and giving everything I have to create a better future for all of us.”

Further details of his programme will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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