THE people who run the North-East are not representative of the region, according to a new study of its most powerful figures.

Academics from the region have concluded that the people in charge of the North-East are largely middle aged and middle class – and many of them are not elected.

The study was carried out by Professor Keith Shaw and Sue Regan from Northumbria University, and Professor Fred Robinson, from Durham University, who surveyed 100 organisations in local government, health, education, arts and culture and housing, which collectively spend more than £12billion a year.

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Professor Shaw said: “This unrivalled analysis of power and accountability shows that the North East’s public services are run by a narrow range of people – largely middle aged, middle class people who are not representative of the region’s population.

“The majority of those in charge are men, but women are more involved than they used to be.”

The study is a repeat of one carried out in 2000, which described those leading the region as “pale, male, and stale”.

Other key findings of the report are that the North-East has little power, with 26 out of its 29 MPs in opposition and just one – Hexham’s Guy Opperman - a member of the Government.

While there has been a big increase in the number of women in governance, it found most senior positions are still held by men and many appointed boards have male majorities.

It also found people in charge did not reflect the wider population, with few under the age of 45, very few from black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds, and few disabled people.

Looking at local authorities, it found the number of councillors had been reduced by 40 per cent since 2000, following the abolition of 13 district councils, and found that austerity had weakened local government.

Meanwhile in the NHS, it was found that small groups of unelected people are making big decisions.

Prof Shaw said: “Many voices are unheard and many points of view are effectively unrepresented. Big decisions about health and education have little or no input from many of the people who use these services. Public services need to be much more open and accountable, so that they are more responsive to local communities.”