A CAMPAIGNER hoping to create a parish council has spoken of his disappointment after the idea was rejected by villagers.

Dr Graham Mitchell, who is chairman of Norton Parish Council steering committee, had hoped that most people would support the plan to create a parish council in the village.

In 2001, a petition in support of the idea gathered signatures from 15 per cent of the village and Stockton Borough Council subsequently conducted a consultation about the plan.

But the results of that consultation revealed that, of 14,360 voters contacted, only 24.4 per cent responded. Of these, only 512 villagers were in favour and 2,992 were against.

The results contrast with a similar consultation exercise in Billingham which had a huge result in favour of creating a town council.

The plan to create a parish council in Norton will still be put before Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, with the Billingham scheme.

Dr Mitchell said rumours that a parish council would lead to a large increase in the council tax bill had undermined the campaign.

He said: "We were clear that we believed it would add about £10 or £12 to the bill, but other people thought it would be more than that.

"The other thing is a lot of people had simply forgotten.

"The council said they had to wait for the boundary commission to look at electoral boundaries, but two years is a long time. We think we were unlucky in our timing."