PEOPLE in Durham have voted in favour of creating a new council for the city.

Voters living the unparished areas of Durham city were asked last month whether they wanted a parish council, with two thirds agreeing to the new authority.

Durham County Council carried out the consultation after receiving a petition from Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods.

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Of the 11,700 documents sent out, 2,819 were returned – a response rate of 24 per cent.

A total of 1,856 were in favour, 958 were against and there were five spoilt papers.

Dr Blackman-Woods said: “I am delighted to learn that the residents of Durham have voted in favour of creating a parish council in the city centre.

“Almost all of the City of Durham constituency is already parished, and I believe this decision will give people who live in Durham the chance to benefit from more local representation.

“I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped in going door-to-door with the petition, as it was their hard work in campaigning for a parish council that started this process. I would also like to offer my thanks to everyone who not only signed the petition, but took the time to return their ballot papers.

“Thanks should also go to Durham County Council for acting so swiftly in arranging this consultation process once the petition was received.

“I look forward to reading the draft recommendations that the local authority will publish prior to their meeting in June.”

Durham County Council will be asked to agree draft recommendations when they meet in June, which will be published on the council’s website giving residents six weeks to comment.

If the council is approved, it will cover the wards of Neville’s Cross, Elvet and Gilesgate and part of Durham South and the first elections will be held in May 2018.It is not yet known exactly what powers it will have as it would be up to the new authority to decide, but it will have a say in planning matters and will be able to set itself a budget to carry out improvements and projects in the city.

The precept for the first year will be £150,000, which will cost a Band D tax payer £34.46 a year.

If the council goes ahead it will mean Newton Hall is the only area of the former Durham City Council area which is unparished.