TWO former Darlington mayors were the most high-profile casualties in a council election that saw Labour retain overall control of Darlington Borough Council.

Lee Vasey lost her seat in Eastbourne ward to Independent Kevin Nicholson, who took the largest share of the vote in the ward that also includes council leader Bill Dixon.

Another former mayor, Brian Thistlethwaite, was ousted in the Brinkburn and Faverdale seat, where he lost out by just 21 votes to Rachel Mills of the Conservatives.

The council is three members lighter than it was previously, with the changes instigated by the Local Government Boundary Commission having taken effect.

Among the previously standing councillors to lose their seat was Liberal Democrat Alan Macnab, in North Road, and Martin Landers, of Labour, who had been left to compete for a seat in North Road as a result of the boundary changes.

Despite fielding candidates in all 20 wards, the Green party failed to win a single councillor and the same can be said for Ukip.

Cllr Dixon, leader of the ruling Labour group, said: "It has been a good night for us, but it is sad to see a couple of good colleagues going under.

"I think, by and large, people have understood the challenges the last Labour administration faced and some of the achievements we were able to bring about – with all the capital investment that has been attracted into the town.

"Yes, not everybody has been happy, but you can't please everybody all of the time."

Cllr Nicholson, who looks set to combine his work as a councillor with his role as chairman of Firthmoor Community Centre, said: "I feel overwhelmed, I didn't think in a million years I'd be able to do what is seen as impossible – a strong Labour seat, which has been held for decades.

"I'm looking forward to working with people, bringing the Town Hall to people's doorsteps and I think we need a new energy in this council, we need a new direction and we need a real community focus in local government."

It remains to be seen what kind of working relationship councillors Dixon and Nicholson will be able to forge in Eastbourne ward, along with Cllr Roddy Francis, who was also elected in that ward.

Cllr Dixon clashed with Cllr Nicholson in 2011, when the latter accused the council of acting illegally over funding cuts to children's services.

At the time, Cllr Dixon said his opposite number was "making a difficult situation worse" with his actions.

Other independent candidates failed to make inroads, including popular shop owner Beryl Hankin, who polled more votes than the Ukip, Green and Liberal Democrat candidates and was less than 130 votes from catching Labour's Malcolm Wright, who was elected along with Cyndi Hughes and Michael Nicholson.

Conservative group leader Heather Scott, who retained her Park West seat, said she was “delighted” that the Tories had won back a Hurworth seat and brought two new female members to the council.

She said: “Our vote has gone up and we have just failed to secure seats in some of the other wards by a small margin.

“It is onwards and upwards and I am very pleased to welcome two new female councillors to our group.

“It is good news; the more women we get into politics, the better.”

Anne-Marie Curry, Liberal Democrat group leader, kept her North Road seat but admitted she was “very sad” that the group lost two ward councillors, including Alan Macnab who has been a passionate advocate for promoting the town’s railway heritage.

Cllr Curry said: “We are very pleased that we have not lost our presence completely in Darlington; we won’t give up and I am pretty sure that Alan Macnab will be back.

 “It is very sad to lose such a hard working member of the team, but we will not give up on him and he isn’t going very far.

“He wants to stay around and help us and he will continue supporting us, just not as an official councillor.”

BREAKDOWN: Labour 29; Conservatives 17; Liberal Democrat 3; Independent 1.

BANK TOP AND LASCELLES (three): V Copeland (Lab) 1314, B Fiske (Lib Dem) 370, L Maddison (Green) 423, M McDonough (UKIP) 704, W Newall (Lab) 1015, A Nicholson (C) 647, C Taylor (896).

BRINKBURN AND FAVERDALE (three): K Francis (Lib Dem) 251, R Grundy (C) 1258, T Hankinson (Green) 359, A Harris (Green) 444, R Mills (C) 1068, S Richmond (Lab) 1115, S Rose (Lab) 976, M Snedker (Green) 308, B Thistlethwaite (Lab) 1047, C Welsh (C) 961.

COCKERTON (three): P Baldwin (Lab) 1405, G Bean (Lib Dem) 511, J Cossins (Lab) 1463, D Gradwell (Green) 581, M Kendrew (C) 839, D Regan (Lab) 1239.

COLLEGE (two): D Davies (UKIP) 209, I Galletley (C) 1245, J Garner (Lab) 678, E Hope (Lab) 716, T Richmond (C) 1230, F Wood (Green) 315.

EASTBOURNE (three): B Dixon (Lab) 981, R Francis (Lab) 1121, A Keir (C) 639, D Lulek (Ind) 262, K Nicholson (Ind) 1142, C Oliver (Lib Dem) 219, L Vasey (Lab) 793, D Wilson (Green) 267.

HARROWGATE HILL (three): H Allen (Lib Dem) 692, G Cartwright (C) 1345, M Cherrington (Green) 480, I Ferguson (C) 1034, C Foote-Wood (Lib Dem) 366, M Knowles (Lab) 1207, A Leach (Lib Dem) 335, D Lyonette (Lab) 1254, J Vasey (Lab) 1143.

HAUGHTON AND SPRINGFIELD (three): C McEwan (Lab) 1540, M McTimoney (Green) 668, A Scott (Lab) 1309, C Smith (C) 1050, N Wallis (Lab) 1137.

HEIGHINGTON AND CONISCLIFFE (two): P Crudass (C) 1236, D Gregory (Lab) 576, G Lee (C) 1546, P Plant (Lab) 349, M Wilson (Green) 282.

HUMMERSKNOTT (two): J Adams (Green) 266, I Barnes (Lib Dem) 325, A Coultas (C) 1435, C Johnson (C) 1431, A McEwan (Lab) 536, E Taylor (Lab) 524.

HURWORTH: P Commane (Green) 245, P Crumbie (Lab) 214, R Dixon (Lab) 228, C Kelley (Lib Dem) 531, J Kelley (Lib Dem) 582, R Lawley (Green) 199, L Tostevin (C) 653.

MOWDEN (two): C Bull (UKIP) 373, P Culley (C) 1,172, J Hughes (Lab) 586, M Moore (Green) 186, J Saint (Lab) 798, B Stenson (C) 1090.

NORTHGATE (two): L Chapman (Green) 243, P Chapman (C), 266, P Everett (Ind) 203, S Kane (Lab) 666, N Kendrew (C) 232, E Lister (Lab) 629, Y Richmond (Ind) 262.

NORTH ROAD (three): A Curry (Lib Dem) 876, J Halliday (C) 388, B Holroyd (Green) 186, N Kang-Scarth (Green) 144, M Landers (Lab) 743, F Lawton (Lib Dem) 785, A Macnab (Lib Dem) 719, G Smurthwaite (UKIP) 435, D Storr (761), J Vasey (Lab) 652, M Wood (Green) 131.

PARK EAST (three): M Adams (TUSC) 107, M Convery (Ind) 255, L Daynes (Lib Dem) 223, M Dunstone (Lib Dem) 198, S Dunstone (Lib Dem) 173, D Fairclough (UKIP) 534, B Hankin (Ind) 553, C Hughes (Lab) 1000, C Johnson (C) 530, J Land (Green) 268, M Nicholson (Lab) 859, R Stevens (Green) 196, M Wright (Lab) 680.

PARK WEST (two): K Baldwin (Lab) 770, A Day (Lab) 546, B Donoghue (C) 1460, R Les (Green) 439, H Scott (C) 1498.

PIERREMONT (three): B Carson (Lab) 1262, M Chapman (Green) 496, S Harker (Lab) 1234, L Hughes (Lab) 1193, P Kenneally (C) 855, A Oates (Lib Dem) 284, E Shroeder (C) 836, A Wattsford (C) 743.

RED HALL AND LINGFIELD (two): J Elliott (C) 515, M Foster (Lib Dem) 212, I Haszeldine (Lab) 831, L Haszeldine (Lab) 770, P Howell (C) 464, L Weir (Green) 222, SADBERGE AND MIDDLETON ST GEORGE (three): N Castell (Green) 308, S Crowther (Lab) 835, B Jones* (C) 1673, D Jones* (C) 1737, E Muggleton (Lab) 514, M Oates (Lib Dem) 223, A Sinski (UKIP) 637, S Thorne-Wallis (Lab) 482, S York* (C) 1722.

STEPHENSON (two): J Forth (Green) 271, K Kelly (Lab) 690, J Taylor (Lab) 639, P Tobin (C) 425.

WHINFIELD (two): C Barker (C) 671, Y Cherrington (Green) 215, H Crumbie (Lab) 991, J Galletley (C) 570, T Nutt (Lab) 890, D Williams (UKIP) 534.