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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 14:50 GMT
What's in a name?
By Brady Haran
BBC News Online, East Midlands

East Midlands Airport
The airport is a sensitive subject
Nottingham's status as the "top city" of the East Midlands was boosted on Tuesday - and started a fresh war of words between civic leaders.

At an early morning press conference, the region's only international airport announced it would be changing its name to Nottingham East Midlands Airport.

In a crushing blow to neighbouring cities, the airport's managing director said nearby Derby and Leicester were overlooked because they "just didn't register" when it came to name recognition.

So East Midlands Airport - which is located in Leicestershire and is closest to Derby - will now carry the name of Nottingham.

Jon Collins, the leader of Nottingham City Council, was elated, saying: "Obviously, it's great for Nottingham that the city will now have a major international airport bearing its name."

Brian Clough
Brian Clough is a hero in both Derby and Nottingham

Leicester City Council's leader said many people in his county would "resent" the move, but it was Derby City Council's leader who reacted most angrily.

Councillor Maurice Burgess said: "If Nottingham East Midlands Airport chooses to ignore two of the cities around them, people off on their summer holidays may choose to ignore the airport."

He suggested Derby residents use airports in Manchester or Birmingham instead.

Rivalry is not a new thing in the East Midlands.

The bitter feelings between supporters of Derby County and Nottingham Forest is legendary, despite the fact both clubs were managed by local hero Brian Clough.

The football rivalry with Leicester City is somewhat less, despite the city currently boasting the region's only Premiership Club (while Forest and Rams both face possible relegation from Division One, sitting at 21st and 22nd respectively).

Robin Hood statue
Robin Hood is a marketing asset for Nottingham

There can be no questioning that each city has its own strengths, and for the record Leicester has the region's highest population.

According to 2001 census data, the city's population is 279,800 (Nottingham has 267,000 and Derby 221,700).

Leicester is famed for its multi-cultural population and Golden Mile, where shoppers flock to buy silks, sarees, jewellery and Asian food.

Derby has always made much of its central location in the East Midlands and, ironically, its proximity to the airport.

But Nottingham will always have one advantage when it comes to international recognition - and it is thanks a man that many people think never existed.

Robin Hood, the legendary outlaw of Sherwood Forest, is a name that will always be linked with the city.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem

He has captured the imagination of many people, helped considerably by a number of Hollywood films.

Airline bmibaby, which was a major force behind the airport name change, has started using Robin Hood in its marketing campaigns.

The airport's managing director, Graham Keddie, said the decision to change names was based purely on money - but argued that Leicester and Derby may benefit from it.

He said: "We based this decision on purely commercial imperatives and the need to ensure the continued success of the airport and our airline partners.

"Nottingham EMA makes commercial sense, not only for the airport, but for all of the major towns and attractions in the region."

That may be true, but seeing Nottingham painted on the front of the airport will still be a bitter pill to swallow for the people of Leicester and Derby.

Row over airport name change
20 Jan 04  |  Leicestershire
Airport name 'will cause confusion'
20 Jan 04  |  Nottinghamshire
Robin Hood 'did not exist'
19 Jun 03  |  Wales
Aiming for the 'Premier League'
22 May 03  |  England

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