A COUNTY councillor has decided to join the Conservative Party ahead of the local elections in May.

Patricia Jopling, who represents Crook on Durham County Council, was first elected in 2008 with the Liberal Democrats.

She left the party the following year and has been representing the ward as an independent councillor.

But now she has decided to join forces with local Tories, and has been working with North-West Durham MP Richard Holden.

Cllr Patricia Jopling said: “For the first time in a long time I really feel like we have a voice in Westminster and someone really fighting for us in Crook.

Mr Holden, who was elected in 2019, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that such a long-serving and well-respected local councillor has joined the Conservatives.

“There is nothing better for a local MP than being able to work with first rate local councillors like Pat Jopling who don’t just care about the towns and villages they represent but really love them.

“Pat has been a terrific local councillor and I look forward to campaigning with her.”