ACROSS the Tees Valley, I’m delighted to say that the people have well and truly voted for real, positive change across the region.

The Labour Party have lost control of Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees councils. This has never, ever happened before.

Independents, Liberal Democrats , Greens, UKIP and Conservatives have all made clear gains across our region. This is good for democracy and I believe it will be good for local people. We now have a positive coalition of change that we desperately needed.

For the best part of 50 years, Labour has dominated decision-making in our area. I’ll let you decide whether their record has been a good one, but for me where one party rules without robust accountability, this can breed laziness, complacency and an unwillingness to listen.

Whether it’s returning Teesside Airport to public ownership to stop it from closing, implementing our £588 million Investment Plan, or starting work on the former Redcar steelworks site, we have showed local people that change is possible and that there is a positive alternative to Labour here.

Nationally, election night was a catastrophic night for the Conservatives - and perhaps rightly so. Many people, me included, are disappointed with politics in Westminster and the Government’s inability to deliver what the people voted for in the EU referendum.

Here in the Tees Valley, however, we trumped the national trend and made surprise gains right across the region. In Darlington, the Conservatives are now the largest party on the council for the first time since 1991. With local stalwart Councillor Heather Scott at the helm, I have every faith that the people of Darlington will see real, positive change over the coming years.

In Middlesbrough, we have a fantastic new Independent Mayor in Andy Preston with a new Independent-led council. I sincerely look forward to working with Andy and the new Independent group to reverse decades of decline in the town. With fresh leadership and fresh, positive thinking, I really believe the people of Middlesbrough have made the right choice.

With Labour out of the way, the time now is for opposition groups across the region - Independents, Liberal Democrats, Greens, UKIP and the Conservatives - to pull together, work together and put party-politics aside in the interests of local people.

If these elections have taught us anything, it’s that Labour have lost the confidence of local people. Over the coming days, different groups and parties will be negotiating to form agreements, coalitions and partnerships in each of the five Tees Valley boroughs.

Any backroom deal between parties to keep Labour clinging on to power would leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. Last week we voted for change and the people expect it to be delivered on.

I’ll be supporting any agreement which ends decades of Labour mis-rule and puts power back into the hands of local people who are chomping at the bit for real change.

If we get this right, history will be made and all five councils in the region will be led by a positive coalition of change.