So the new unitary Durham Authority will be Labour-controlled - but it was tight.
On a positive note, in Chilton, where together with colleagues from Darlington I had been campaigning, Labour's Brian Avery and Christine Potts decisively beat the BNP by 650+ votes. It was another miserable night for the BNP in the North East, with no breakthrough anywhere. Credit should go to the Bishop of Durham and other community leaders who had the courage to stand up publicly to the racists and name them for what they are. It was my perception on the doorstep that the "in your face" BNP campaign actually helped to motivate Labour supporters to go out and vote.
Elsewhere, however, some good friends (and good councillors) went down. Vince Crosby in Aycliffe West lost by 26 votes. Ken Manton, the former leader of the old County, went down in Bishop Auckland Town, and George Burlison was defeated in Framwellgate Moor. David Taylor-Gooby, who is a colleague on the National Policy Forum, lost in Peterlee West and Phil Graham and Neil Stonehouse were defeated in Coundon.
I got to know George when working at Aycliffe Young People's Centre, and I'm sure he'll be back. Ken would have continued to play a leading role in the new authority, and he certainly will be missed. I'm particularly disappointed at the result in Coundon, however. It's a community I know quite well, from my days as a children and families social worker, and it has complex problems. Neil (leader of Wear Valley DC) and Phil were first class advocates for local people, working very hard to bring investment to the area. Had Labour's rulebook been different, Phil would have been my hot tip to deservedly succeed Derek Foster as MP for Bishop Auckland. Now he's off the Council.
To finish more positively, rather like in Darlington last year, if the motley crew of independents, LibDems and Tories can't turn Labour out this year, when we are at our lowest ebb for 2 generations, one wonders if they ever can. I'm sure the Party will respond with vigour to these results.