CALLS have been made to hold Darlington’s council to account after the authority admitted nobody would be disciplined over a blunder that delayed contentious library proposals for the third time.

As revealed by The Northern Echo, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet members failed to declare a conflict of interest before they voted to recommend the closure of the historic Crown Street Library, the ceasing of the town’s mobile library service and the transfer of Cockerton Library to volunteers.

Declarations of interest should have been made due to the cabinet also acting as sole trustee for Crown Street.

On Tuesday, the authority’s assistant director of law and governance, Luke Swinhoe, admitted that the “procedural omission” left the council vulnerable to legal challenge and that the process must therefore be delayed once again.

As the authority confirmed no disciplinary action would be taken over the issue, Darlington’s Conservative group, which recently called in the proposals for further scrutiny called for someone to be held to account.

Cllr Heather Scott said: “The latest revelation is continuing the saga of misinformation, lack of reliable evidence and disregard for genuine scrutiny.

“During the scrutiny debate we were again assured that after external expert advice the legality of the cabinet members as sole trustees was not in question and that the chance of a legal challenge would be easily defended.

“This is obviously not accurate and causes us to question the reliability of the whole proposal. We have lost complete faith in the ability of the Labour cabinet to safeguard both the relocation of the Library and the future of the Crown Street building.”

Cllr Nick Wallis responded by asking the Conservatives to outline their own plans to make the £310,000 of savings the council estimates will arise from the relocation of Crown Street Library.

He added: “I challenge Cllr Scott to come clean and set out her proposals - in these difficult times, opposition is not enough.”

Paul Howell, spokesman for The Friends of Darlington Libraries, echoed Cllr Scott’s comments and said campaigners were considering lodging a formal complaint in relation to the council’s procedural errors.

He added: “It is pure incompetence and shocking that there will be no disciplinary action.

“These are serious errors and the council needs to come under pressure for it.”

John Dean from Darlington for Culture said: “The people of Darlington deserve better than this.

“Time and time again it seems as if the library has gone to the brink then something happens to throw it all into confusion.

“With all the twists and turns, it ends up with people having little confidence in the process.”