BILL Dixon is a salt-of-the-earth character who undoubtedly has the best interests of Darlington at heart.

It is fair to say that he is also a figure who divides opinion.

Some of the opposition to Mr Dixon which has appeared in online forums, including The Northern Echo website, has sometimes been unfair, personal and distasteful. The Echo does not subscribe to these views and we hope that people acknowledge the many years of hard work that Mr Dixon put in to improve the lives of people across the borough when they reflect and comment upon his legacy.

Nevertheless there is widespread feeling across the borough that a new approach is needed.

Bill Dixon, and former council chief executive Ada Burns, oversaw an incredibly challenging period at the council where savage spending cuts by central government forced local authorities to make some very tough decisions. Arguments will continue to rage for years as to whether all of the decisions made by DBC's leadership over the past 10 years or so have been correct. If mistakes have been made then it is important that we learn from them, but rather than linger on the past now is the time for Darlington to seize control of its present challenges.  

Mr Dixon’s decision to resign opens the way for someone to step into the breach with the vision and dynamism to embody a positive image of Darlington to the wider world. It currently promotes itself as the town which was and continues to be a hotbed of ingenuity, under the 'Ingenious Darlington' brand. It doesn't take a genius to work out that if it is to have any hope of forging a successful future for its citizens then the time has come for Darlington's leaders to show boldness and imagination.