DARLINGTON’S political opponents are to put aside their differences to lobby the Government over swingeing budget cuts which are set to change the town forever.

A special cabinet meeting on Thursday night saw the town’s Conservative leader pledge to work cross party to benefit the people of Darlington.

A number of residents took to the streets of the town to protest the proposed £12.5m cuts ahead of the meeting.

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Scores then poured into the Dolphin Centre to hear Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet discuss its dire financial future.

Worried residents raised significant concerns over the proposals.

The future of the town's Victorian Covered Market and its libraries were repeatedly raised, along with issues around job prospects and the impact of social care cuts.

The proposals also include the closure of five children's centres and various services to the old, vulnerable and young. Up to 186 council workers face redundancy, with many more jobs expected to go as grants are axed to partner and voluntary organisations.

Members of the public also suggested councillors should make sacrifices by forgoing their predicted rise in allowances.

Council leader Bill Dixon suggested putting the issue to a vote in the future and urged the public to engage with the on-going consultation period.

He promised to remain transparent throughout an ‘unprecedented’ budget process brought on by government cuts to local authorities.

“We are not following a well-trodden procedure, we are having to make this up as we go along," he said.

“We need to have conversations to make sure we work out how best to do this.”

Conservative leader, Heather Scott, said she would join Cllr Dixon in lobbying the government.

She said she believed the distribution of government grants across the UK was unfair.

"People have asked if we will work together with the council and we already have in opposing the cuts to the public health grant.

“I have offered to go with the leader to lobby the government, particularly Greg Clark.

“I do think the way in which some grants have been given is unfair.

“We should all work together for the benefit of the people of Darlington.”

Detailed information relating to the cuts being proposed for Darlington can be accessed at darlington.gov.uk/microsites/budget-2016-home.

* Darlington's Conservative leader has apologised for using misleading figures in an article about council cuts.

In an article for The Northern Echo, she claimed 53 council officers were receiving salaries of at least £74,000.

A statement issued today said: "I have to apologise for inaccurate figure regarding numbers of officers.

"The true figure is 10 receiving £74.000 and 29 receiving £50.000 .

"I accept responsibility for the error and the moral is that rather than accepting information in good faith you should double check before going into print.

"I stand by the rest of the article."