London is sucking "the lifeblood" from regions such as the West Midlands and preventing the north-south divide from being bridged, the head of the British Chambers of Commerce has warned.

David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the concentration of high-paying public sector jobs in the capital led to a brain-drain as graduates fled other parts of England.

Mr Frost, who lives in Sutton Coldfield, called for 50,000 civil service posts to be moved out of London, when he spoke at a fringe meeting of the Conservative Party Conference.

Stephen Norris, the former Transport Minister and London Mayoral candidate, called for every major city to have a directly-elected mayor as the way to improve services and encourage economic development.

Mr Frost, who speaks on behalf of 135,000 businesses across Britain, said: "We are getting the life blood sucked out of the regions in to London, which I don't think can cope."

London's own infrastructure was buckling from its swollen population, with house prices soaring, while there were empty homes in the north of England, he said.

"That is why the divide between the north and south is not being bridged.

"I would take 50,000 jobs and get them out, acting as significant drivers to the regions outside".

He also called for the abolition of regional bodies such as regional development agencies, regional assemblies and regional government offices.

"None of these bodies are adding anything, he said."