A PASSIONATE letter has been sent by business leaders to the Government imploring it to let the Tees Valley shape its own economic future.

Twenty captains of industry have signed the missive to Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State, Business, Industry and Skills.

The signatories have reinforced their support for a bid to create a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which would be responsible for decisions on issues including transport, planning, housing and tourism.

Meanwhile, they back the creation of a North-East Economic Partnership to ensure functions, such as access to finance and innovation are tackled on a regional platform.

The letter was sent yesterday by the Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) regeneration consortium on behalf of tycoons including Chris Musgrave, chief executive of JC Musgrave, in Stockton, Paul Booth, president of Sabic UK Petrochemicals, at Wilton, in Redcar, and Alasdair Mac- Conachie, managing director at Sherwoods, in Darlington.

The letter said the area faced unique challenges but also offered huge opportunities.

The Tees Valley LEP acknowledged that the industrial landscape of the area was quite different to that of other parts of the North-East or the UK therefore a different approach to supporting economic growth was required, it added.

“The local business community, through our involvement in the public/private partnership of Tees Valley Unlimited, have helped to put forward what we believe is a compelling case.”

“We need to make sure our area has a greater number and more variety of local businesses so that we can become less reliant on one kind of industry a legacy that has left the area with high unemployment and lower-than-average skills levels.

An announcement is expected soon on which LEPs proposals have been successful and replace the regional development agencies such as One North East.

In August, Tees Valley Unlimited submitted the first LEP bid in the region with backing of Darlington, Stockton, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Hartlepool borough councils.

However, it was announced this week that TVU is having its budget cut from £9m to £2m and could lose two-thirds of its workforce.