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Ben Houchen’s airport ownership bid enters ‘advanced’ stage

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Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen (Con) has submitted a formal proposal to bring Durham Tees Valley Airport back into public ownership.

Discussions have now entered “a more advanced stage”, said Mr Houchen.

Bringing the airport back into public ownership was a key pledge in Mr Houchen’s manifesto and told LGC in an interview soon after his election in May last year that it was his “number one priority”.

In a speech to mark his first year in office last week Mr Houchen said: “I promised to the people of the Tees Valley that our airport should be run by the people, for the people.

“Over the last 12 months, I’ve had a series of informal discussions with Peel Airports. I am pleased to say those discussions are now entering a more advanced stage.

“I can today confirm that a proposal has been submitted to Peel, and a strict non-disclosure agreement [NDA] has been signed and agreed.”

Mr Houchen also announced that a separate NDA had been signed with an established airport operator which could take over the running of the airport.

Since the local councils in the Tees Valley - Darlington, Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees BCs and Middlesbrough Council - sold 75% of their stake in the airport in 2002 passenger numbers have plummeted.

A spokesman for Peel Group said: “The Peel Group recently entered into a non-disclosure agreement with the mayor’s office. A non-disclosure agreement is a standard business practice in circumstances whereby, without prejudice, discussions take place between two parties. These discussions are a necessary step forward in-order that ongoing matters can be resolved.”

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