AN awards scheme has been launched to celebrate independent businesses in the region.

Simon Clarke, the MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland will be presenting awards to the best independent businesses in his constituency.

He said “One of the most enjoyable aspects of representing our fantastic area as MP is the chance to meet so many inspiring business people.

"It takes guts, dedication and hard graft to start and run your own business and we all benefit from the fantastic local products and services that entrepreneurs provide for our area. I have therefore decided the new year presents a great chance to launch a Local Business Awards scheme and I am looking for nominations from my constituents.”

Businesses can be nominated by visiting Mr Clarke's website, where details of the different categories can be found.