Nicola ShortProminent North East businessman Jeremy Middleton has made the high profile appointment of former Entrepreneurs’ Forum CEO, Nicola Short as his campaign manager.

The move sets up the mayoral contest as a possible dramatic show down between the North East business community and region’s political establishment.

Mr Middleton, a vocal representative of business in the region has often clashed with Labour politicians on the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

The role of elected mayor is seen as integral to more powers being devolved to the region as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative.

The election will take place on 4th May 2017 and Mr Middleton is the only candidate so far to declare.

Mr Middleton said: “I am extremely pleased to have Nicola on board. This is not about party politics it is about finally doing what is best for our region and delivering the change we need.”

Before taking on the role of managing Mr Middleton’s mayoral campaign, Nicola Short was Chief Executive of the North East Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

Securing the well-respected Ms Short is a coup for Mr Middleton. Before her role at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Nicola worked in the both the public and private sectors, in some of the North East’s biggest companies including Sage, Newcastle Building Society, and the NewcastleGateshead Initiative.

Ms Short said “I decided to join Jeremy’s team because he really is the change we need, he understands that creating the jobs people need requires a strong understanding of the businesses that will create them. Party politics and petty infighting just don’t deliver for our region. I know from my experience working with the region’s business community that what people really want is strong leadership and someone who puts the region before politics. That is exactly what Jeremy is doing.”

Ms Short, who was born in South Shields, and studied at Sunderland University, confirmed Mr Middleton was not a member of any political party and would be seeking to build a “cross party group of advisers.” Ms Short said her appointment itself was a good example of Mr Middleton’s Independence, given she is a normally a Labour voter. “This is about going beyond party politics do what is best for the region. It doesn’t matter what party you support, it is about doing what is right for the North East.”