Labour has reaffirmed its commitment to play a lead role in securing a bright future for County Durham, despite today losing the leadership of the council.

Labour Group Leader, Cllr Carl Marshall, said: “Congratulations to Amanda Hopgood for becoming Leader of Durham County Council. She and Richard Bell formed a LibDem/Conservative coalition, backed by Independent councillors, and I look forward to hearing its plans for County Durham.

“Given the vastly differing political views and platforms each party stood on, it will be interesting to learn how the coalition will deliver the 30,000 jobs for which Labour laid the foundations in the last administration. Likewise, its plans for Aykley Heads and the 4,000 jobs its development has the potential to create.

“I have, so far, been disappointed not to hear more on coalition plans to deliver improvements to lives across our communities. Will it back the £85m leisure transformation with new builds and repurposed leisure? Will the coalition deliver the huge council house building programme Labour started? Will it see through our £750m investment in Towns and Villages we planned? Will the coalition bid for Government Levelling Up money? Labour hands over a council in a secure financial position. We are willing to work with this coalition to deliver investment and services across the County…but we need to know what the plan is.

“Respected business leaders like Sir John Hall and James Ramsbotham, this week called for certainty on the council’s development plans. In this fragile economy, will a LibDem/Tory coalition be bold and create the fertile ground required for economic development or risk chaos with ongoing uncertainty?

“Forming official opposition is a first for County Durham Labour. We do not underestimate the vital role we play in holding this coalition to account and ensuring democracy is delivered. In that respect, our first task must be to request full disclosure of the coalition’s leadership arrangements, so people are aware of who to hold accountable and the exact details of the agreements between them all.

“Our hand of friendship – ignored last week as this coalition was created – remains extended. Labour’s priority is to ensure this County Council delivers for the people and businesses of Durham.”