THE campaign that will urge referendum backing for a North-East Assembly will be based in Durham City.

The Campaign for North-East Regional Government hopes to open offices in the city centre soon.

The city is regarded as being in the centre of the region and more acceptable to Teesside people, who fear an assembly dominated by Tyneside.

For the same reason, Durham is being touted as the base for regional government.

The campaign will get into full swing once the Government announces there will be a referendum on the issue.

John Tomaney, 39, professor of regional governance at Newcastle University, has taken over as chairman of the campaign from the Bishop of Durham, the Right Rev Michael Turnbull, who is retiring.

Prof Tomaney said: "Durham, for us, is the ideal place.''

He said the campaign did not have the power to decide the location of the assembly, but added: "There is a very strong lobby for it to be created somewhere like Durham that is accessible for all parts of the region and eases the worries of Newcastle dominating the region.''

Prof Tomaney said the campaign was hoping to attract funding from trade unions, political parties and rich businessmen.