The nominations for May's elections have now been published.
Firstly, the good news is that Labour is already 2 seats up - in Eastbourne and Park East where in both wards there are only 2 opposition candidates.
Secondly, the list underlines the continuing decline of the Tories in Darlington. In 2003 they stood 47 candidates for the 53 seats - today only 40 candidates were announced. In several previous Tory target urban wards, the Conservatives have been reduced to standing candidates with exotic rural addresses - 2 of the Cockerton East candidates live in Summerhouse and Dalton-on-Tees, for example. In contrast, the LibDems have 26 candidates (14 last time). As I blogged yesterday, Labour is standing a full slate again.
The news the Echo I hope won't centre on are the 8 BNP candidates (in Pierremont, Cockerton West, Cockerton East, Harrowgate Hill, North Road, Lingfield, Bank Top and Northgate) although this is a similar number to the 6 who stood last time. All 3 main parties I'm sure will take a robust line against the filth these characters peddle in their leaflets and on the doorstep.
Otherwise there are 2 Greens and 3 independents - in MSG (Bill Maybrey), Hurworth (Peter Foster) and Eric Thompson (Heighington and Whessoe). All 3 have been councillors before, and should prove stiff opposition for the sitting Tories there. The single UKIP candidate in Mowden (who lives in the ward) may also give the Conservatives a few sleepless nights.
You can read the full list here.