IT is three weeks today since the shockwave that was the local election results tore through the political scene of the North-East, leaving Labour in disarray, and hung councils across the region.

In this very column just ten days ago, we voiced hopes that the choice of the people of Darlington to elect the Conservatives as the largest party, albeit with no overall control, would be recognised as a vote for a change in local politics. We said a new vision was needed for the town.

Given the chaos reigning at the heart of Westminster, and the obvious public distaste for way entrenched political positions are hampering any sort of progress on Brexit, we also hoped that there would be an acknowledgement that now is not the time for divisive behaviour. It is still very early days, but the signs are already worrying that the message is not getting through.

New Darlington council leader Heather Scott described last night’s decision of the Labour group to vote against her taking up the role as “absolutely disgraceful,” accusing the party of having “sour grapes” after losing control of the authority.

This does not bode well for any kind of constructive relationship between the two parties at a time when the town – and wider region – needs its elected representatives to work for the common good. Cllr Scott’s first job as leader is to attend crisis talks over the future of British Steel this morning. That’s the kind of issue that should be focusing minds, not party political point scoring.