COUNCILLOR Carl Marshall has been appointed interim leader of the Labour group in County Durham, the Northern Echo understands.

No official announcement has been made but sources have confirmed Cllr Marshall, who represents Stanley, will be officially installed in the role on Saturday.

It follows an emergency meeting among members following the shock news that long-serving council leader Simon Henig was standing down as leader of the group.

Cllr Henig made the announcement after Labour lost control of Durham County Council for the first time in almost 100 years.

It comes amid a crisis for the party in the polls locally as well as nationally.

Labour began the election with 68 councillors, but suffered heavy losses in last week’s elections, while the Conservative made significant gains taking 14 seats.

The current political make-up of the council is:

• 50 Labour councillors

• 17 Liberal Democrat councillors

• 21 Independent councillors

• 24 Conservative councillors

• 5 Derwentside Independent councillors

• 4 The North East Party councillors

• 3 Labour and Co-operative councillor

• 1 Green Party councillor

• 1 other councillor

Cllr Henig will remain leader of Durham County Council until the annual meeting of the council on May 26 when the new leader will be unveiled.

It is understood Cllr Marshall will now have the role of working with other parties and councillors to determine how power will be shared.

Helen Lynch, head of legal and democratic services, said: “The leader of the council is appointed by elected members at the annual meeting of the council.

"Cllr Henig remains as leader until the meeting on Wednesday 26 May, when a new leader will be appointed.

“In the meantime, it is a matter for the group leaders to determine between themselves whether they wish to seek to form an administration.”

Cllr Marshall, 40, first became a councillor with Derwentside District Council at the age of 23.

His parents, David and Linda, were both long serving councillors.

His father has just stood down from Stanley Town Council and his mother, a former magistrate, lost her Chester-le-Street seat in last week’s election.

Cllr Marshall is Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, is the North-East board member for Transport for the North and also sits on Stanley Town Council.

In 2011 he formed Stanley Events, a non-profit organisation, which organises community events across the county, such as music festivals and fireworks displays.

He and his wife, Anna, are both listed as directors with the organisation and the Go To Leisure Group, which was formed in 2013.

Durham County Council’s website shows Cllr Marshall has served as a director at Beamish Museum, County Durham Development Company, Teesside Airport, Durham Villages Regeneration, Newcastle Airport Local Authority Holding Company and Stanley Indoor Bowls Centre.

He is also a member of the County Council’s Network, The County Durham Development Company, the Local Access Forum, the Local Government Association, The North East Combined Authority, Project Genesis, Stanley Area Action Partnership and Stanley Community Partnership.

Cllr Marshall and the Labour Party have been approached for comment.