TWO organisations given the task of changing the fortunes of the Tees Valley will now have to find new chairmen.

Businessman Alistair Arkley, chairman of Tees Valley Partnership, plans to stand down and will officially inform the board at its next meeting.

On Friday, it was revealed that Peter Middleton, who has been chairman of Tees Valley Regeneration (TVR) since 2002, had unexpectedly resigned.

Mr Arkley, speaking to The Northern Echo yesterday, said: "I have indicated my intention to resign from the board of Tees Valley Partnership, simply because I feel it is time for a change.

"However, if the board wants me to stay on temporarily until a replacement is found, I will do so."

Mr Arkley, who also sits on the board of TVR, said there was a possibility that he would temporarily chair the TVR board.

"It has to be someone from the private sector and there are only three of us from the private sector that have been on the board for any significant amount of time," he said.

The other two who could potentially take on the responsibility temporarily are Steve Gibson, chairman of Middlesbrough Football Club, and Sir Mark Wrightson, chairman of Close Brothers Corporate Finance, who have also served on the board for some time.

Mr Arkley said his prime concern was for the welfare of the Tees Valley and, if necessary, he would chair either board for two or three months.

He said: "Stepping down seemed like the natural thing to do because we have just set up an independent secretariat at Tees Valley Partnership and, with the structure changes, I felt it was a good time to move on and let someone else take the reins.

"I am also chair of the Northern Business Forum, and I need to dedicate more time to my business New Century Inns."

At Tees Valley Regeneration, Mr Middleton's sudden resignation took the region's business community by surprise last week.

He is believed to have made an announcement in the middle of a board meeting and left immediately, leaving Darlington Borough Council chief executive Barry Keele to chair the rest of the meeting.

Last night, Mr Middleton, who is also the chairman of GTL Resources, in Yarm, near Stockton, would make no comment about his sudden departure.

A spokeswoman for Tees Valley Regeneration said she was not aware of any reasons for his resignation, other than he had a young family and wanted to devote more time to them and his business.

One source, who did not wish to be named, said that business leaders serving on the board of TVR were tired of infighting in the public sector.

Mr Arkley said last night: "There have been examples of squabbling, but in my experience, common sense usually prevails, and involving the private and voluntary sector on the board gives an added dimension and means you can usually find a way forward with reasoned debate."