A TOWN and neighbouring villages campaigning to establish a council of their own could end up with three under new proposals.

Durham County Council is expected to start a second consultation over the creation of councils in Crook and Durham City next week.

It has drawn up plans for the two areas after consulting with residents a few months ago with a view to the new authorities being in place by next year.

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Residents in Crook, which does not have any form of council, will be asked their opinion on two options, the first being no change to the current status, the second being three parish councils covering the Crook area.

The council is proposing to create a Hill Tops Parish Council covering Stanley Crook, Sunniside and Billy Row, a Crook Central Council including the town, Roddymoor, Howden-le-Wear, Fir Tree, North Bitchburn and High Grange and a Hunwick Parish Council covering Hunwick.

Campaigners from the town had originally called for one council to cover all three areas, but county council officers said there was not enough support for the scheme from the 860 people who responded to the consultation.

About 52 per cent of responders said they did not want a council at all, with the second most popular choice being three smaller parish councils, although members of the Crook Town Council steering group criticised the original consultation form, calling it confusing.

Gavin Jopling, treasurer and secretary of the steering group, said his group will have a stall at Crook marketplace every Tuesday to explain the plans to people and gather support.

Meanwhile, residents in Durham will have three options to consider, including not having a council at all and sticking with the current Charter Trust. They could also opt for one large council covering the whole city, apart from areas bordering Framwellgate Moor, or a smaller authority with a separate council for Newton Hall.

Colette Longbottom, Durham County Council's head of legal and democratic services, said: "We believe that the proposed arrangements offer effective and convenient options for the future and should also ensure a strong sense of community identity."

County councillors are expected to approve the second consultation over the latest plans at their meeting in Durham next Wednesday.