CONSERVATIVES in Darlington launched their local election campaign at the weekend as they said they believed they could win control of the council.

The party is fielding a record number of candidates for the council elections in the town.

Buoyed by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen's victory and the Tees Valley Combined Authority's purchase of Durham Tees Valley airport, they believe there has not been a better time locally to win the extra ten seats they need to win control of the council, despite the turbulent national political climate.

Mr Houchen and Peter Gibson, the Conservatives' Parliamentary candidate for Darlington, joined councillors outside Crown Street Library on Saturday for the launch.

Heather Scott, leader of the Conservative group on Darlington Borough Council, said: "The campaigning is going very well. People are saying to us that they are just fed up of the Labour-run council and it is time for a change."

Mr Gibson said: "We have a groundswell of support.

"There is not a better place to launch our campaign than in front of the library which the Conservatives campaigned to save.

"The whole review of the library service ended up being a waste of time and money.

"Now the message we are getting on the doorsteps is that people are ready for a change.

"They know Labour has been here for too long. They want better car parking, they want more footfall in the town, very simple things that a council should be doing.

"We have people coming to us saying they want to stand for us because they are so fed up of Labour."

Mr Houchen said his surprise victory in the Mayoral elections was due in part to a good proportion of Conservative votes from both the Darlington and Stockton areas.

He said: "I think people can see that we have a lot to offer.

"It you look at the breakdown of the votes in the Tees Valley Mayor elections Stockton and Darlington voted overwhelmingly for me.

"With the plans for Darlington market, which we will be helping to fund, the Stockton and Darlington railway heritage proposals, and the airport, I think we have shown we have a good offer to the people of Darlington."

The TVCA is proposing to make the railway a world-class heritage attraction by 2026 in a bid to boost tourism, after achieving Heritage Action Zone Status.

It is hoped the railway will be rejuvenated and restored in the build-up to its 200th anniversary in 2025, fulfilling its potential to become a major heritage attraction.