JUST 14.3 per cent of Darlington residents took to the polls for County Durham and Darlington’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

The town's MP Jenny Chapman condemned the elections, saying she had never known such a low turnout.

“The whole experience has been a shambles,” she said. “What is extraordinary is the low turnout. It was dreadful; I have never known an election with such a low turnout.

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“Even when we have local elections it’s never been this bad.”

The new PCC for County Durham and Darlington, Ron Hogg, won the first round of voting in Darlington, taking 4,724 votes out of the 11,186 cast overall.

Independent candidate Kingsley Smith took 3,252 votes, while Conservative, Nick Varley, came third with 1,853 and UKIP’s Michael Costello took 1,357.

The official count said 225 votes were confirmed as spoiled.

Mrs Chapman said: “The Home Office has gone to enormous expense to stage an election that nobody was convinced was going to work at a very weird time of the year.

“They could have spent more time promoting the elections and held them at the next local elections in May next year.

“Part of the job of a successful candidate is to convince voters that they have chosen the right person. It will be an incredibly tough job but whenever something goes wrong in Darlington, we now know exactly who to go to.”