HUNDREDS of would-be politicians gathered at a County Durham leisure centre to find out the future make-up of their local town and parish councils.
Spennymoor Leisure Centre was a hub of activity yesterday (Saturday, May 6) as candidates descended to face the nail-biting wait for the results of Thursday’s election - with so-called non-political community parties leading the way for change.
With 125 uncontested seats already announced, dozens set to work to count the votes from the 55 contested seats from town and parish councils spanning the county.
One of the biggest council shake-ups saw Spennymoor lose its Labour majority to the Spennymoor Independents People Before Politics (SIPBP).
Previously made up of 17 Labour councillors, one independent and four SIPBP, the council has been turned on its head with 17 SPIBP seats, three Labour, one Liberal Democrat and one Independent.
SPIBP Cllr Kevin Thompson said the party was delighted with the result and looked forward to having a majority party “without restrictions”.
He said: “We’ve always been in opposition and now we’re in a position where we can try and set out to do things we would want to do and have the majority implement our thoughts.
"We hope to bring a party independent of influence of national parties where the needs of the local people are outweighed by national political decisions.”
A similar pattern was seen in Seaham where newly founded Seaham Community Party gave Labour a tough fight.
In the contested seats both parties won ten seats each and following a recount the 21st seat went to Labour, with just four votes in it.
Founder Cllr Barry Taylor said: “It’s fantastic news. I used to be a member of the Labour party but didn’t agree with their policies and didn’t agree with the way they ran Seaham - I don’t think they were in it for the right reasons.”
Party member Cllr Linda Willis added: “We’re not political. We don’t care who you vote for in the General Election, this is about the town, this is about Seaham.”
Elsewhere the step away from national parties was seen in Haswell where The Haswells Community Party gained nine of the contested seats while in Peterlee the North East Party secured 18 seats, and Standing up for the North East won two.
And tensions ran high during a count for the last seat on Great Aycliffe Town Council’s Woodham Ward as a tie between Labour’s Michael Dalton and Keith Henderson lead to a straw vote.
Tipped to be the council’s next mayor, it was Mr Dalton who lost the poll.
Cllr Eddie Adam said: “It’s a real shame. We’re disappointed to lose him - he’s a stalwart of the Labour party. It’s an end of an era.”
To find out the results for your area click here