TEES Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has hit back against Labour MP's criticism of his electoral promise to buy Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Dr Paul Williams, MP for Stockton South, said the mayor should drop his 'fantasy' proposals to buy back the airport after a Parliamentary debate.

He said it was time for the Mayor to draw a line under the idea that anyone would buy back the airport, before saying he should work with local MPs and majority owner Peel to champion it.

Durham Tees Valley Airport is currently 89 per cent owned by Peel Airports with the remaining 11 per cent being owned by a consortium of local councils.

Dr Williams said: "Peel Airports have previously stated that the airport is not for sale. The group has invested £38 million into the airport since 2003 and the airport currently loses between £2 million and £3 million a year.

"Critics of the Mayor’s plans argue that these current losses would have to be met by public funds if the airport was to be taken over.

“It’s time for the Mayor to drop the fantasy plans that would cost millions of pounds of public money for the sake of political grandstanding. Durham Tees Valley Airport has an important role to play in the future of our region but it needs to stop being treated as a political football in order for it to be able to succeed."

But Mr Houchen hit back, saying he had a democratic mandate to bring the airport back into public use.

“I have a democratic mandate to bring our airport back into public ownership," he said.

"No matter how many times Labour MPs try and undermine my position, the mandate will not change. The voice of the people will be heard.

“I would politely ask that Labour MPs stop with the sideswipes and work with me. This could be amazing for our area so let’s work together.”

In the last week, Mr Houchen has also faced criticism from Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, who branded his idea 'fantasy politics' and said it could be a detrimental distraction to Peel's plans to move the airport forward.

He said money had been invested in the terminal and further spending on radar and security upgrades were planned, as well as plans to develop the airport as an aviation-led business hub, making it the regional centre for Aerospace technology.

And last week Labour MPs, Phil Wilson, for Sedgefield, and Alex Cunningham, of Stockton North, debated the issue in Parliament and appealed for Mr Houchen to 'stop using the airport as a political football' and champion it instead.