TALKS to examine a potential power sharing agreement for Darlington Borough Council following Thursday's shock results at the polls are set to start tomorrow, The Northern Echo understands.

With no party able to take a majority control of the local authority, the Conservative group are hoping to persuade the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party or the three Independent councillors to get behind them.

Labour lost control of the council for the first time in a generation, with the Conservatives on 22 seats, Labour 20, Liberal Democrats three, Independent three, and Greens two.

Councillor Lorraine Tostevin, who was appointed as the Conservative Group's spokeswoman during the election campaign, is confident that progress can be made in the coming days after members had arranged meetings with some of the other parties with seats on the council.

Cllr Tostevin said: "We are waiting to speak to everyone involved but we are confident that we will be able to take the borough forward, whether that is with a shared majority or as a minority leadership.

"We have some young councillors on board now and they will help to deliver a better future for the Borough – we are really looking forward to the challenge."

The former Labour leader of the council, Cllr Stephen Harker said: “In the next four years we will be happy to work with other parties, in support of policies that are rooted in social justice, sustainable growth, and security and safety for people across the Borough. And in that spirit, Labour has responded positively to the Green Party's suggestion of meeting.”

The Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Anne-Marie Curry said she is prepared to speak to all other parties in an attempt to secure the best deal for the area.

She said: "I have spoken to all the other parties, with the exception of Labour as they have made no contact whatsoever. I will see what each brings to the table but there will not be an immediate decision as I will consult with all party members first."

While the Green Party members are calling for unity, Cllr Matthew Snedker, party coordinator in Darlington, said “Voters have not seen fit to give any one party a majority in the council chamber, rejecting a Labour party that had lost touch but not trusting the Conservatives, whose national party is in disarray. The only way to respect the vote is to form a joint administration that rises above party barriers and works for the common good.”

Cllr Kevin Nicholson, the leader of the Independents, was unavailable for comment last night.