Public invited to choose Durham Tees Valley Airport name

Durham Tees Valley Airport
Image caption The £35m to buy the airport would come from the budget allocated to Mr Houchen by government, he says

A poll to choose the name of a struggling airport has been launched after a council announced plans to buy it.

Durham Tees Valley Airport is currently losing £2.5m a year.

Last week, Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said he had agreed a deal to buy it for £35m from current owners Peel Group.

"If the people get to own this airport, it's only fair they decide what it should be called," Mr Houchen said.

The airport, near Yarm, was known as Teesside International from the 1960s until 2004.

Mr Houchen told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he had been "inundated with emails and messages" requesting a name change since the deal was announced.

'Airporty McAirportface'

The Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) poll presents two options: keep the current name or revert to Teesside International Airport.

But members of the public - perhaps inspired by the notorious Boaty McBoatface vote - responded with their own ideas on social media.

John Griffiths tweeted: "It's going to end up Airpoty McAirportface (sic), isn't it."

Meanwhile, Linsey Carson simply tweeted: "Planey McPlaceface" (sic).

Sensing a public relations disaster, Chris Titchmarsh said: "This is going to end well."

In 2016, Boaty McBoatface was the runaway winner in a public appeal to name a new polar research vessel.

However, the ship was eventually christened RRS Sir David Attenborough, and one of its remotely operated sub-sea vehicles named Boaty instead.

TVCA chairman Mr Houchen said "I know there are thousands of people in our region who want to change the name back to Teesside International," he said.

The money needed to buy the airport would come from the authority's £513m investment fund.

Mr Houchen has also said he would spend a further £5m on land next to the airport, which is also owned by Peel Group and has been approved for 350 new homes.

Image caption Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said "thousands of people" wanted to change the airport's name

A decision on whether the airport purchase goes ahead will be made by the TVCA on 24 January.

Its cabinet comprises Conservative Mr Houchen and the five Labour leaders of Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool, Darlington and Stockton councils.

They have called for further details ahead of the vote.

Labour Middlesbrough MP Andy Macdonald last week questioned whether it was "a good use of public money".

Peel Group had said it had "an agreement in principle, subject to approval by the local authority leaders" and it would "work seamlessly... to ensure a smooth transition".

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