THE Labour group has launched its campaign to retain control of Darlington Borough Council in the coming election.

Council leader Stephen Harker has laid out the group’s ambitions for the area if they maintain their majority at the polls on May 3.

The local authority currently consists of 50 members, representing 20 wards, and is a Labour led Council with 28 Labour, 16 Conservative, three Liberal Democrat and three Independent councillors.

Outlining the group’s plans, he said: “As a Labour authority, we have always had ambition. There’s lots of difficulties but we still have a vision for this town and lots of things we think we can do and that needs doing to improve the town for business and residents

“Yes it is a continuation (of the work we’ve done) because we’ve always tried to do that, so it isn’t just more of the same - ­­ the outcome will be the same, but how we get to that is fundamentally changing. Finances have changed, and we have to react to that.

“The easiest thing to do would have been to say we’ve got no money and close all these services and just go home, but that is certainly not what the Labour group is about and what our residents want.

“It is not more of the same, we are reacting to the changing world that we find ourselves in.”

The Northern Echo:

Council leader Stephen Harker with the town's Labour MP Jenny Chapman

Addressing voters who think a change is needed, he added: “It is about wanting the town to grow, wanting to make sure our citizens are protected and have the services they need, live in the places they want, tackling issues with the town centre, improving the vitality of town as a place to work and live, and to shop.

“We’ve had to stop and realise, okay this is where we are at with the national finances, but these are the things we want to do and what residents what would like to see us do.

“We are about getting things done so Darlington stands on its own in difficult economic circumstances and amongst uncertainty with Brexit lurking as a threat with no clue what going to happen. Whether we leave or stay, there will be uncertainty either way.

“Our track record is clear. Since 2010, in very difficult financial circumstances, consistently balancing the books, with budgets in decline, we’ve reduced the staff we’ve had, and the management we’ve had, and yet over that time we’ve said these are the things we want to do year on year and this is how we are going to do it, in a planned careful way.

“If you look up and down the country, there are lots of examples councils being badly managed and not addressing the issues they face and having huge black holes and thinking what do we do now? “We know there’s been an issue (with lack of govt funding), we’re not happy, it’s wrong, it’s unfair, but it’s there and we’ve dealt with it and eight years later we’re secure financially with the resources we have.”