James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive, North East Chamber of Commerce said:

“We are very concerned by this development. Our members have backed devolution because it gives us the opportunity to take control of policy areas where a single national approach has failed to meet the needs of this region.

“The current proposals aren’t everything we ultimately want, but we believe there is much greater chance to get the right powers in place by doing a deal and then building on it – as is happening in Manchester.

“With Tees Valley also pressing ahead with devolution, we have a chance to establish this region as the first fully devolved part of England and show how we can take a lead. If instead we end up with a hole in the middle of the map, that risks sending a very different message to the rest of the world.

“We hope there is a way forward to get this process back on track quickly. The business community remains ready and willing to work with local authorities to make devolution a success for North East England.”