POLITICIANS have given a cautious welcome to plans that will see a reduction from 53 to 50 in the number of councillors representing Darlington.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has released its recommendations for new electoral arrangements in the Darlington Borough Council.

After ten weeks of consultation it has suggested, as expected, that the amount of councillors in Darlington should be reduced by three.

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It also recommends that councillors should represent ten two-member wards and ten three-member wards.

The reorganisation will also see changes to the names of several wards.

Bank Top and Lascelles wards will be merged to created a new ward, Albert Hill becomes Stephenson ward and Haughton Le Skerne ward will become Haughton and Springfield ward.

Elsewhere, in response to local views, the commission has changed its draft recommendation in the north west of the borough so that the Bishop’s Palace development site is included in a Faverdale ward rather than Pierremont ward as previously proposed.

The Commission has also decided to change the name of the ward in question to Brinkburn and Faverdale as a better reflection of local community identities.

Commission chair Max Caller said: "We are extremely grateful to people across Darlington who took the time and effort to send us their views.

"The Commission considered every piece of evidence it received before finalising these recommendations."

The result was deemed generally satisfactory by the leaders of the council's two largest political parties.

Council leader Bill Dixon said: "This is what all parties recommended. It is a reasonable result which allows access to representatives.

"The town is growing as we know. It would be unusual if the process is not accepted.

"There are one or two issues. Some of the wards are a bit odd-shaped. Some new joint wards don’t even touch each other. But we’ve got what we’ve got."

Conservative leader Heather Scott added: "The result is generally fairly satisfactory. The accepted proposals have been put forward. I am quite happy."

She agreed with Cllr Dixon that there were some boundary issues.

Cllr Scott said: "Calling a new ward Faverdale and Brinkburn seems a strange name. The majority of the proposals have been accepted though."

An LGBCE spokesman added: "We carried out public consultation during the process. The feedback proposed that name (Brinkburn and Faverdale).

"We did not come up with that name and the public consultation felt that it was a fair reflection of local identities."

The council has been Labour-controlled since becoming a unitary authority in 1997.

Of the current 53-member make-up, there are 33 Labour councillors, 15 Conservatives and 5 Liberal Democrats.