Opposition alliance could force out Labour's control of Durham County Council
Labour could be forced to cede control of County Durham to an opposition alliance this week.
And its polling day defeat could be confirmed on Wednesday, May 26, when a cross-party group of councillors is expected to mount a challenge to seize power from the old regime.
A spokesperson for the alliance said: “People in County Durham from across the political spectrum voted for a new approach, and that is what we intend to deliver.
“Our discussions are underpinned by a refreshing attitude of positive, constructive cooperation and we are excited about the potential of what we can achieve together.
“As soon as we are ready to share more details, we will issue a full statement.
“What is clear is that the status quo is not an option that the public wants, and the alliance plans to develop and deliver a policy programme which reflects that.”
Wednesday’s annual council meeting is due to be the first time county councillors have met in person, rather than via videolink, for official business in more than a year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The session, which traditionally kicks off the new municipal year, is due to be held at Spennymoor Leisure Centre, to allow social distancing.
After this, it is expected most local authority business will return to County Hall, in Durham City.
Before polls opened, 69 of the 126 council seats were held by Labour, but by the time counting had finished three days later this had been slashed to just 53, prompting the resignation of council leader Simon Henig as leader of the council’s Labour group.
While Labour remains the largest single party, it is unable to form a majority by itself.
At least four political groups – the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Durham Group and the Durham County Council Independent Group – are believed to be behind the new alliance.
:: Proceedings from the annual council meeting are due to be live streamed over YouTube. Anyone wishing to attend in person is advised to contact the county council’s democratic services team.