A GROUP is calling for the new unitary authority in County Durham to be given a name that reflects the fact some of its area will include former parts of North Yorkshire.

The authority, which will encompass seven district councils, should be given a name such as Central County Durham and Teesdale Council or Mid-Durham and Teesdale Council, according to the Association of British Counties (ABC).

It said a name such as County Durham Council would be inappropriate because the authority would only cover about two-thirds of the area of historic county as well as including an area that was previously North Yorkshire.

Prior to 1974, anything south of the River Tees was North Yorkshire, including much of Teesdale.

ABC chairman Dr Peter Boyce said: "Only one third of County Durham folk are served by Durham County Council.

"The creation of the new unitary council is an opportunity to choose a new name which better reflects the communities served by the unitary council."

Chris Abbott, chairman of the Yorkshire Ridings Society, said: "Teesdale is often known as the most northerly of the Yorkshire Dales.

"The new unitary council should be proud to serve this beautiful part of Yorkshire.

"It should not adopt a name which denies the Yorkshire identity of this area."

Durham County Councillor John Shuttleworth thinks it would cost a minimum of £4m to change the name from Durham County Council.

He said: "These are unelected people and if they want to change the name, then they should pay for it.

"Everybody identifies with Durham County Council. It is on all of the public buildings, and all of those would have to be changed."

But Dr Boyce said: "A new council needs a new identity. If it stays as it is, people will think Durham County Council has just taken over and all the districts have been abolished."

Durham County Council leader Councillor Albert Nugent said: "The association is entitled to its view, but the majority of people I speak with think of themselves as living in County Durham, which they are very proud to do. The only redeeming feature of the alternative ABC has put forward is that it would give us one of the longest council names in the country.

"Given our proud heritage and all that our area has to offer, I would hope that our county would be known for much more than that."