GOVERNMENT Minister Harriet Harman visited Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield yesterday, to rally support for upcoming elections.

Ms Harman helped launch the Labour party's campaign for district council elections in Wear Valley and Teesdale and borough council elections in Sedgefield.

Ms Harman, who wants to be Labour's next deputy leader, first spoke to councillors and party members in Bishop Auckland.

Appearing alongside Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman and Neil Stonehouse, the leader of Wear Valley District Council, Ms Harman said: "I am very pleased to be supporting the campaign in Wear Valley, Sedgefield and Teesdale. A partnership between Labour in Government and Labour councils is a most important thing."

Ms Harman answered questions on housing, the powers of local government, youth services and provision for the elderly.

She later addressed the annual council civil ball in Sedgefield. A consultation is under way on abolishing County Durham's district councils and replacing them with a unitary authority.

However, Mrs Goodman said: "Whatever the upshot of that consultation, these district councils are going to be working for at least a full two years before further elections."

Elections will be held on May 3.