A Labour councillor has criticised the set up of Durham County Council following the recent elections.
An ‘alliance’ – or a coalition – has been arranged between the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and independent councillors which has ended 100 years of Labour rule at Durham County Hall.
Despite Labour still having the most number of returned councillors from the May 6 elections, with 53 voted back in after losing 16 seats, the other groups comfortably outnumber Labour.
And Jim Atkinson – one of only two Labour councillors for Aycliffe after their heavy losses – has questioned the democracy of the new regime.
“I do worry about the exclusion of Labour, which has more than double the seats of the next largest party, as it fails to acknowledge the numbers who voted for them,” Cllr Atkinson told Aycliffe Today.
“And to then name the alliance ‘joint and democratic’ is odd.
“How do you convince the County you’re governing for everyone if you initially disenfranchise the opinions of over 100,000 people?”.
Cllr Atkinson says there are already people saying they aren’t impressed that candidates they supported have joined forces with parties for whom they would never vote.
He added: “None of those councillors consulted the people who trusted them with their vote before abdicating their responsibilities on that score. It’s disappointing.
“While I accept no party was given a mandate with a majority, people have elected a variant of councillors hopefully to coalesce their individual strengths. Especially those voting independents who fought as individuals with no party colours.
“Fifty-three Labour members were returned in this election and not because they were talentless so clearly should have been part of a governing administration if at least for continuity and expertise.”
Cllr Atkinson says serving on the county council has not been an easy job given the “determination of the Tory government to continue its punitive campaign against the North”.
“We’re told that the people want change, let’s hope that’s the thing that changes,” he added.
“I am, however, about Aycliffe and I will continue to do my best to serve the people of my constituency.
“I am personally willing to provide advice and assistance to new members for the sake of our citizens and hope the new people take advantage of experienced councillors and can serve the county as well as the award-winning Labour Council of the past four years.
“No matter who you voted for, my door, phone and e-mail are all open, as always.”