Tees mayor Ben Houchen says the region has a golden opportunity to “find its voice again” after he revealed a deal had been agreed over the ownership of Durham Tees Valley Airport.
At a joint press conference hosted at the airport on Tuesday, mayor Houchen said: “I am delighted to confirm that I have reached a deal with Peel to bring our airport back into public ownership.
“This is a deal that will secure our airport’s long-term future, and delivers on the number one election pledge I made to the people of the Tees Valley.
“I know some politicians promise the world and walk away from their responsibilities, but I won’t be that type of politician.
“The people asked me to take back control of our airport, and now I’m doing just that. This is the democratic mandate that I have been given.
“Using the money devolved to our area from central government, I am proposing to use just over 6% of that – £35m – to acquire Peel’s shareholding in our airport and 819 acres of land.
“In order to stop the planned 350-home development outside the terminal, we have agreed to acquire the land with planning permission for £5m. Stopping this development is central to our long-term plan to make this airport great again.
“We have over £513m from central government to invest in local priorities that we determine. For the people of the Tees Valley, having a thriving local airport is a priority.
“Because I am proposing to use money devolved to our area from central government, there will be zero impact on people’s council tax bills, zero impact on local authorities, zero impact on public services, and zero impact on local businesses.
“The people of the Tees Valley will not have to pay a penny extra to finance this acquisition. Our valued public services will not be affected by this deal, our councils will be completely insulated and protected, and our other priorities will still be delivered on.
“Taking back control of our airport presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Tees Valley to find its voice again.
“As we look to a positive future outside the European Union, we won’t just be competing with Newcastle, Leeds or Birmingham – our success depends on our ability to work, trade and collaborate with old friends and new allies around the world.
“That means we have to be as accessible, visible, competitive and pro-active as possible, and it starts with securing the long-term future of our airport.
“Over the coming weeks, I’ll be setting out a new path, with a new vision and new leadership to take this airport into the future. That includes announcing a new airport operator, and a 10-year business plan drive forward our ambitions for the airport.
“The ultimate deal will be public, voted on and will require the support of our five local authority leaders. We will be completely open, honest and transparent throughout.
“I need the five leaders of our local councils to vote in favour of this plan. If they don’t, we can’t progress. It’s as simple as that.
“Our council leaders have always wanted to see this airport thrive – and now I’m calling on them to back our plan to make this airport the success we know it can be.
“Failure to secure the future of this airport will deprive the region of a significant economic asset.
“That’s why the deal we have agreed is worth it: it’s worth it to businesses that want the connectivity they need to grow, it’s worth it for families that saves up throughout the year to get a break in the sun, and it’s worth it for the private investment this acquisition will unlock.
“With a new plan, new leadership and a new vision, the People’s Airport will pay for itself.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Robert Hough and Peel for the open and constructive way they have approached these discussions.
“We both want what’s best for this airport, and we both want what’s best for the people of the Tees Valley.”