TENANTS in a north Durham town have voted overwhelmingly in support of a mass transfer of council houses to a social landlord.

At a conference hosted by Chester-le-Street District Council at the town's Red Lion pub, more than 90 per cent of the 130 tenants voted for a total stock transfer.

The event, presided over by the Tenant Participation Advisory Service, formed part of a consultation for a five-year programme of improvements, and follows a series of roadshows.

Councillor Isabel Smith, housing and community safety officer, said: "The council has listened to tenants, taking their views on board.

"Ending the conference, the vast majority of tenants voted to say that the consultation process had equipped them to be able to choose their preferred option.

"They then voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Tenants Panel recommendation of preferring the 'stock transfer' option.

"The council will now be taking this valuable contribution into account, alongside the wider inputs of tenants from the consultation process - with the impacts of the options across the district."

Ian Broughton, director of community services, said: "I only started work with the council three weeks ago, but I was astounded by the turnout of delegates at this conference, as well as the level of debate and questions asked.

"The day yielded yet more information that I will formally report to the council's elected members in early spring."

He said the council had to have reached a final decision by March, with the consultation process putting "tenants in the driving seat as key stakeholders"