MOST of the focus of “Super-Thursday”, the biggest set of local elections the country has ever seen, has gone on the Hartlepool by-election – dubbed the most important by-election in 30 years – and then on the Tees Valley mayoralty.

But it is no exaggeration to say that Durham – not just a heartland but a bastion – of Labour is in the melting pot.

If the huge, and shock, Parliamentary gains that the Conservatives made in 2019, even winning Durham North West, are translated into council seats then the first change of power in a century could occur at County Hall.

A poll yesterday in Hartlepool – of a small sample size taken before the “cash for curtains” questions arose – put the Conservatives an amazing 17 points head.

In local and mayoral elections, the candidates have to be more practical than they are political – to succeed, they have to be able to demonstrate how they have changed their communities – and there are many good councillors who will have a personal vote. They come from all parties, and from none – the rise of the independents, particularly at local level, is not reflected in the national polling.

So beware the poll, but even if it is only half accurate, when the votes are counted, our region could be politically unrecognisable compared to how it was five years ago.