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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Conservatives launch election campaign

Darlington Conservatives have announced their ambition to gain overall control of the council for the first time in more than 40 years.

Party members launched their local election campaign at Teesside Airport on Saturday, as they promised to continue investing in the town since 2019.

The party took control of the council at the previous election four years ago after striking a deal with Liberal Democrat and Independent members, who all feared the deadlock would hinder decision-making.

Now, council leader Jonathan Dulston has announced his ambition for even more local representatives as they field a full ticket of 50 candidates across all council wards for the first time.

The Conservatives have issued six pledges to residents ahead of the election in May: improve green spaces; continue free parking; deal with dog mess; improve safety and pride in the area; demolish Northgate Tower; and crackdown on speeding and dangerous driving.

Cllr Dulston said his party has “shook up the council” and has taken a different approach to other leaderships, with newer and fresher faces entering local politics.

“Our ambition is to get full control of the council because that will unlock even more potential for what we want to do and where we want to take Darlington,” he said. “I believe we’re in a good position to get a majority of seats on Darlington Borough Council.”

That includes making sure every member of cabinet is a Conservative, compared to the current position where the council’s health and housing lead is Independent member cllr Kevin Nicholson.

Cllr Dulston added: “I’m happy to work with everyone to ensure we get the job done, and I’ll continue to work with councillors across the board to make sure we deliver as much as we can. But I think we’ll get the majority in May.”

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen was joined at the event by the Darlington’s MP Peter Gibson and his parliamentary colleagues Paul Howell, of Sedgefield, and Matt Vickers, of Stockton South.

Mr Houchen addresses the crowd of supporters to praise the work of local politicians and councillors in helping bring Teesside Airport back under public control, revitalising the steelworks site and investing in Darlington town centre.

Since 2019, cllr Dulston is most proud of securing Government investment for the town, paving the way for the Treasury to move up north. He told members that Darlington is currently outperforming almost every town centre in the North East, but says his party has not forgotten the key issues affecting residents everyday.

He added: “All day long I will knock on doors and the most important things I hear are dog dirt,dealing with people who fly-tip, making our communities safer and giving young people something to do. As much as we’re creating opportunities, jobs and investment, we’re also going to be concentrating on ward issues that can have the most detrimental impact to communities if we don’t get it right.”

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