IT is two years almost to the day that The Northern Echo exclusively revealed that the Conservative candidate to become the Tees Valley’s first directly elected mayor, Ben Houchen, would look to take the ailing Durham Tees Valley Airport back into public ownership.

Although Mr Houchen’s pledge was greeted with scepticism, it was this bold approach that made the mayoral model so appealing and it was this sky-high ambition which went a long way to Mr Houchen’s surprise victory.

And it is hard to imagine that the old, collegiate model of five councils acting together would have been able to strike this daring deal within two years.

It is daring because buying a loss-making airport for £75m is a big risk. But there is consensus that an airport can have a positive impact on a local economy, and without this risk, how else will this region secure that benefit? The airport would shut in 2021, and the old model of giving the owners money and planning permission for houses has clearly failed. The only alternative was to do nothing and watch thousands of houses creep across the runways.

So congratulations to Mr Houchen for delivering on his pledge and congratulations to the five Labour leaders for supporting him – some positively and some begrudgingly.

Buying the thing may be the easy part: running it long term without draining public resources will be harder. But this is a risk worth taking, and with sky-high ambition on our side rather than defeatist inaction, there is every chance it will take-off.