TEES Valley council leaders are working on a plan to develop a combined authority for the sub-region, rather than accept invites to join the existing North East Combined Authority.

A consultation on the formation of a Tees Valley Combined Authority is due to be launched before Christmas.

However it is understood the proposal already has the backing of the five leaders of Darlington, Stockton, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland councils.

Darlington Borough Council leader Bill Dixon said the plan was to develop a body which added "great value but at very little cost".

He added: "This wont be a so-called super-authority - it will be small but perfectly formed.

"We need to be grown up about this. It's about the future of our sub-region and we think we can make a huge difference.

"We will be talking to key people between now and Christmas, however the initial soundings are very supportive.

"We have our own distinct structures and issues in the Tees Valley, as does our private sector, and we don't see the benefit of joining to be one hybrid body."

The plans have already got the backing of Stockton South MP James Wharton.

“This is a cross party issue, some of us understand that Teesside has its own identity and needs. Being tied to a vast North East Combined Authority would not be in our interests.

"We can benefit by working with other North East bodies in some areas, but in others we look more to Yorkshire. We need the flexibility to build on the success we have already enjoyed with Teesside’s City Deal and our LEP attracting a far greater proportion of government investment than used to be the case when everything was run from Newcastle."

The proposals for a Tees Valley Combined Authority were revealed after Iain Malcolm, from the North East  Combined Authority's Leadership Board, said Teesside’s councils should join with together with them.

Earlier this year, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland councils came together to form a combined authority known as the North East Combined Authority.

The combined authority aims to deliver a more coordinated approach to issues affecting the whole region such as transport, skills and attracting investment.

It does not replace individual councils, who will continue to deliver the vast majority of services to local communities.

It is expected that combined authorities will become central to Government plans to devolve more powers to the regions, following the outcome of the Scootish referendum.