18738North East LEP board member and self-made businessman Jeremy Middleton has criticised the regions Local Authority leaders for their approach to the devolution deal they signed last year, calling on them to show leadership and embrace change.

Mr Middleton, who was a prominent voice in support of the devolution deal, and lead a campaign culminating in a letter from nearly 100 business leaders backing it, condemned them for trying to shirk their obligations, comparing them to rogue landlords.

Jeremy Middleton said: “The region’s political leaders need to get a grip, they have done a deal and signed it and are behaving like rogue landlords trying to get out of their obligations. Their party political infighting is damaging to both the reputation and status of the north-east.

“Delays will cause Manchester and other parts of the Northern Powerhouse area to achieve the Devo deals first and setback the North East by creating the impression that we are not in the top tier.

“It is clear that some of the North East’s Labour establishment would rather maintain the status quo. Our region has the most to gain from devolution; our leading politicians should not engage in double dealing and delays, and embrace the change we need.”