THE leader of Darlington Borough Council has said it is the 'right time to hand over' after announcing her resignation from the role after three years.

Cllr Heather Scott became council leader in 2019 after her Conservative group became the largest party in that summer's elections, bringing to an end 40 years of Labour council control.

Read more: Darlington Council leader Heather Scott to stand down after three years in top job

The 82-year-old, who became the first female leader of Darlington Council in its 152 year history, will outline her intention to step down at a full meeting of the local authority this evening.

The resignation of the leader of the council is listed as an item on the agenda for next Thursday's Darlington Borough Council annual meeting, followed by the election of a new leader.

Speaking to The Northern Echo ahead of the meeting, Cllr Scott said: “I’m 82 now, and I’m still fit and capable, but you’ve got to be realistic, so now is the right time to hand over.

"We have got a lot of younger, talented people coming through, so it is important that you plan for a succession.”

Cllr Scott was elected as a councillor in 1976 and has been the Tory group leader for almost 15 years.

She said: “It was a fantastic opportunity for me to become leader of the council. It was my ambition politically and I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and it has been a great honour.

"I couldn’t have done it without the team around me, and that team will continue the progression going forward.

Read more: Interview: Darlington's first female council leader Heather Scott

“We have got through Covid and now there are some fantastic opportunities for Darlington with the Treasury jobs coming, so young people don’t need to go to London to find great jobs, they will have them here.

"We have been bringing communities together, and with money from the Towns Fund, there really fantastic things coming for Darlington. I feel very proud of what we have been able to achieve in the last three years.”

Despite stepping down as leader, she will continue to serve as a councillor and will stand in the 2023 elections.

She added: “I have a lot of background and experience and will use it to the best of my ability, and I am really looking forward to being involved in the 2025 railway celebrations.”

Cllr Scott faced a brief leadership challenge last year when Conservative councillors agreed Cllr Rachel Mills should take over as group leader, before the decision was reversed months later.

Her deputy, Cllr Jonathan Dulston, looks favourite to succeed her at next week’s election.

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