CAMPAIGNERS hoping to create a parish council for Aycliffe Village have been dealt a blow.

Sedgefield Borough Council has decided to halt the review of the parish arrangements and make no recommendation to the Government after considering all submissions on the proposal.

The council began a consultation exercise after receiving a petition of 200 signatures in favour of a proposal for the village to break away from Great Aycliffe Town Council and go it alone.

A report to members said that as a result of the publicity, 23 letters of objection were received and seven people asked for their names to be removed from the petition.

They also received a letter signed by six residents enclosing a petition signed by 370 village residents objecting to the proposal.

Durham County Council said it would support the wishes of village residents, but Great Aycliffe Town Council voiced opposition to the proposed breakaway.

It raised concerns over the membership of the steering committee, questioned the validity of the submitted petition and said it did not have the support of villagers.

Borough council officers said there were a number of questions about how the steering committee was established and who it represents. It also raised concerns over the petition, where a number of people appear to have signed more than once.

The report adds: "It is apparent that more people signed a petition against rather than for proposals for change. It cannot be concluded that a majority of residents are in favour of the proposals, which appear to be only a partial expression of views within the community."

But Councillor Bill Blenkinsopp, who has been campaigning for a parish council, said he had not given up hope.

He was unhappy at the way the borough council reached its conclusions and is considering referring the matter to the Standards Board for England, particularly regarding the publicity campaign undertaken by the town council.

Coun Blenkinsopp said: "I'm still going for it. I really hope and pray we get a parish council because it's for the benefit of the people who live in the village."

A meeting to discuss the way forward will be held in Aycliffe Village Hall next Sunday, at 6pm.