A FORMER Government Treasury economist has been appointed to spearhead a body aimed at delivering thousands of North-East jobs and financial prosperity.

Andrew Lewis will lead the newly-launched Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) as managing director.

The organisation is made up of local authorities from Stockton, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, as well as regeneration body Tees Valley Unlimited Local Enterprise Partnership.

Officials say TVCA seeks to stimulate economic growth across the Tees Valley by bringing decision-makers closer.

Under that remit they say Mr Lewis, who joins from Newcastle City Council, where he held the assistant chief executive role, will be integral, drawing upon previous experience of securing Government deals on funding and greater local powers.

Bosses added his time at transport body, The Northern Way, will also be vital in strengthening connectivity across the region, while he is also expected to build on Tees Valley Unlimited’s ambitions to create 25,000 jobs and add £1bn to the local economy’s net value by 2022.

Mr Lewis said: “I am delighted to be joining TVCA at the start of an exciting process of devolution, with the opportunity to deliver a real change in economic growth and new jobs.

“Tees Valley has a reputation as a dynamic and forward-thinking area, with huge potential, and a great track record in partnership working.”

Councillor Sue Jeffrey, TVCA chairwoman and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council leader, said Mr Lewis has all the credentials to be a success.

She said: “Andrew has the knowledge and understanding of business and partnerships to be able to work closely and effectively with all sectors to develop and seize opportunities to diversify and grow the Tees Valley economy.

“Tees Valley has bold ambitions and aspirations and Andrew’s qualities and excellent track record made him the ideal candidate to take the helm.”

Paul Booth, Tees Valley Unlimited chairman and Combined Authority member, added: “The calibre and enthusiasm of the authority’s new managing director will be great assets in helping Tees Valley successfully meet the challenges and opportunities ahead, particularly in the key growth sectors of digital and creative, low carbon technology and advanced manufacturing and engineering. “

Mr Lewis is expected to join the authority in July.