NORTHERN Mayors and business leaders have united to demand control over EU cash after Brexit.

In a cross-party call, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has joined the Mayors of Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and Sheffield City Region want control over the money, which will be repatriated from the EU after Brexit, so they can use it to drive up living standards in their areas.

NP11 Board, representing the North’s 11 local enterprise partnerships, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and the People’s Powerhouse, a grassroots movement, have also backed the call.

In a joint statement, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, Liverpool's Steve Rotheram, Sheffield's Dan Jarvis and Mr Houchen said: “More than two years since the Brexit referendum, the defining mantra of that campaign – to take back control – looms large as we approach March 2019.

"If that phrase is to mean anything, it must mean substantial devolution of power and resources out of Westminster to the English regions.

“The UK’s employment rate has recently hit record highs and many of our city centres are thriving hubs of commerce and culture. But some places remain locked out of this success story.

“This underlines the need for areas to be given more control of the tools to unlock inclusive economic growth in their communities."

Mr Houchen said: "What I don’t want is another Whitehall power grab.

"Post Brexit, we need to ensure that EU funding comes directly back to Metro Mayors so we can direct investment most effectively to meet the needs of local people and local businesses.

"The needs of places like Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, with lower pay and stubborn unemployment rates, need to be front and centre of any new fund to support economic growth.

"If the people of the Tees Valley can’t fill the jobs which we create the places they live won’t benefit – then the full benefits of economic resurgence will be lost to those who most need them.”