The leader of the North East England Chamber of Commerce has written to the Prime Minister to demand local resources for authorities to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic - and to prevent a move into Tier 3 restrictions.

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham calls for the immediate provision of funding and resources at a local level to help the region's authorities get on top of Covid outbreaks.

The Chamber last week joined chambers around the country, calling for any new lockdown restrictions to come with “truly commensurate” financial support or face catastrophic economic consequences.

The North East has so far escaped moves to be placed into the highest level of restrictions, but the current Tier 2 restrictions are hindering many businesses and tighter restrictions could yet be imposed, with talks expected to continue between local authorities and the Government this week.

The talks come days after the announcement of further business support schemes, and the Chamber acknowledges recent changes in the letter to ministers – but says no amount of funding can fully prevent the harm that would be caused by enforced closures under Tier 3.

Mr Ramsbotham stressed the need for immediate support and resources and says the solution for tackling Covid-19 was more regional autonomy.

In the letter, he says: “I am contacting you on behalf of the members of the North East England Chamber of Commerce to urge the Government to provide immediate support and resources aimed at tackling local outbreaks and preventing this escalation.

“Local authorities in our region have worked tirelessly to tackle Covid and demonstrated huge initiative in engaging Government early to discuss public health restrictions. We have worked closely with them to provide reassurance and guidance to our businesses.

“For their part, businesses have done everything possible to make their environments safe for both staff and customers, often at huge expense.

“Time and again during this crisis it has been shown that blanket national policies are no substitute for local knowledge and control.

“Test and Trace is failing to deliver at a local level and it is ludicrous that further support to control outbreaks and establish local contact tracing is tied to a move into Tier 3.

“While we acknowledge the recent changes to business support schemes, no amount of funding can fully prevent the harm that would be caused by mandatory closures under Tier 3. With case numbers appearing to stabilise, we have a moment of opportunity to get this crisis under control.

“We therefore ask that you engage immediately with political and business leaders across the North East and provide all the resources required to address local outbreaks, vastly improve test and trace provision and prevent business closures.”