THE Conservatives have become the biggest party on Darlington Borough Council after Labour suffered significant losses.

Labour have lost control of the council, with the Conservatives on 22 seats, Labour 20, Liberal Democrats three, Independent three, and Greens two.

Three Conservatives were elected in Brinkburn and Faverdale ward - Scott Durham, Valerie Preston and Rachel Mills, The ward saw a Conservative gain of two seats, as previously Labour and an Independent held a seat each.

Labour was kicked out of Eastbourne ward, the former ward of ex-council leader Bill Dixon, with two Independents and a Conservative elected.

Leading members of the last Labour administration Chris McEwan, Andrew Scott and Nick Wallis are all re-elected, with Cllr Wallis retaining his seat by just 35 votes.

As the result was announced all three looked grim-faced following four Conservative seats gains elsewhere.

There were two Labour losses to the Conservatives in Whinfield ward, with Jamie Bartch and Andrew Keir are elected.

Conservative leader on the council Heather Scott is returned in Park West ward along with fellow Tory Robert Donoghue. The Green candidates are placed third and fourth in the ward.

Jonathan Dulston was elected for the Conservatives in the former Labour stronghold of Eastbourne. Independent Steven Tait also secured a seat. The top Labour candidate was David Beckett with 325 votes, while Independent Kevin Nicholson secured 1,025.

After retaining his seat on Eastbourne ward Independent candidate Kevin Nicholson said he had been left shaking from the stress of the count. "I've got 73.8 per cent of the vote, which isn't bad. My nana will be proud!"

In Harrowgate Hill, Labour lost a further seat to the Conservatives as two Tories were elected - Ian Bell and Jonathan Clarke.

Lynn Paley was elected for Labour in the ward, securing her seat by just 15 votes from Conservative candidate John Evans.

Another Labour seat was lost to the Conservatives on the Stephenson Ward. Ian Haszeldine retained his seat on the council. Tory Michael Renton also won a seat.

There was a further Tory gain in Darlington as Conservative candidates Lorraine Tostevin and Christy Chou were elected in the Hurworth ward, following Liberal Democrat councillor Joe Kelley stepping down.

The Heighington and Coniscliffe ward saw Conservatives Paul Cruddas and Gerald Lee re-elected.

In Humersknott, the Conservatives retained their two seats with Charles Johnson and Paul Howell. Alan Coultas, who left the Conservatives to become Independent during the last council lost his seat.

Conservatives Pauline Culley and Alan Marshall are re-elected for Mowden ward.

The Liberal Democrats made a clean sweep of the North Road ward, winning three seats. Liberal Democrat group leader Anne Marie Curry retained her seat alongside Hilary Allen and Nigel Boddy.

The final ward declared wasSadberge and Middleton St George. Conservatives Brian and Doris Jones are returned along with Tory newcomer Deborah Laing, sealing Labour's fate.