A CAMPAIGN has been launched to create a town council for Consett.

Councillor Stephen Robinson believes a new layer of government is needed to address local issues in the former steel town.

Councillor Robinson, who represents the Benfieldside ward on Durham County Council, said: “A town council will give Consett its own voice and that is what is needed to take the town forward.

“Yes there is a bit of money goes on the top of the council tax in terms of the precept and I know that leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths, but it gives you an extra bit of service.

“It will be open and transparent and not held behind closed doors.”

Derwentside District Council, which covered Consett and Stanley, was abolished in 2009 when Durham County Council took over as a unitary authority.

Stanley was given its own town council in 2007 and, earlier this year, the City of Durham Parish Council was created.

Cllr Robinson said: “It will never replace what Derwentside was, but at least there will be somewhere people can attend and give their views.

“There will be elected members to listen to you to feed it back to the county council.”

Cllr Robinson’s proposed council will cover the Consett North and South wards of the town centre.

He will have to gather the names of 7.5 per cent of the electors in those areas on a petition before Durham County Council will carry out a community governance review.

Helen Lynch, the council’s head of legal and democratic services, said: “The petition must meet a number of conditions including gaining a certain number of signatories from the petition area and the definition of the area to which the review would relate.”

Councillor Alex Watson, who represents the town on Durham County Council and is the former leader of Derwentside District Council, is opposed to the idea.

Coun Watson is currently in discussion with the county council about setting up a town centre management board.

He said: “In my opinion you have got to have a genuine partnership with the private sector to pull the money in. That will bring in the investment because they have got businesses that operate in the area.

“A town council will mean increased taxation and another tier of bureaucracy. Nothing gets done and I am totally opposed to it. 100 percent.

“If the people want it then that is for the people to decide.”