LAST week, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said the people of Darlington had voted for “real, positive” change in turning their back on Labour and electing a Conservative-led council for the first time in decades.

Nationally, voters abandoned both of the main political parties in a protest over Brexit. This was evident with independent success in Hartlepool, Redcar and Middlesbrough.

The lack of a strong independent presence in Darlington left voters who wanted change with no alternative but to back the Tories. This doesn’t mean people were endorsing the Conservative Government of the last decade, and the austerity measures they imposed.

But they did vote for change on a more local level. Readers who have submitted letters to our Hear All Sides page and commented online have constantly painted a picture of a Labour-led authority running out of ideas and not listening to residents.

Despite Cllr Stephen Harker’s best efforts, issues around the future of Crown Street Library and the demise of the town centre never went away, and he failed to persuade voters that he would offer anything substantially different from the Bill Dixon-era.

Cllr Heather Scott, Conservative group leader, has promised there will be “exciting times ahead”.

We await the impact of a Conservative-led council on the town, but one thing is clear – the people of Darlington voted for real, positive change. They want a new vision for the town. The new council must deliver one.