Discussions to be held on Tees Valley Combined Authority
Tees Valley's five local councils are to consult on plans to join forces in an attempt to boost economic growth and job creation in the area.
The councils of Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Hartlepool will discuss plans that could unite them as a Tees Valley Combined Authority focusing on economic development, transport, infrastructure and skills.
The new statutory body could also unlock devolved powers and resources from government.
The move would elevate partnership working between public and private sectors to a new level, creating a united approach to building a stronger Tees Valley.
The proposal has already received strong backing from business leaders in the form of The North East Chamber of Commerce, the CBI and the Institute of Directors.
Sandy Anderson, chairman of Tees Valley Unlimited, said the combined authority would make the work of developing the area's economy "even more effective".
"It is important that business is engaged from the very beginning of the process and its support is vital to the future success of a Combined Authority," said Anderson.
Graham Robb, chairman of the Institute of Directors in the North east, added: "We have heard about 'devo-max' in Scotland, this proposal is 'devo-Tees' and I am happy to welcome it because it promises business a role at the heart of decision making from the very start."