|Simon Henig CBE|
The outgoing leader of Durham County Council has resigned following Labour's historic loss of the council. Labour had held overall control of Durham since 1925 and have been the largest party for the entire 102 year history of the council. They remain the largest party after Thursday's elections, but the council has gone into no overall control after Labour lost 21 seats, most of which to the Conservatives.
Simon Henig had been leader of the council since 2008 and had initially said that he would be willing to work with 'anybody' following Labour's defeat. However, he resigned as Labour group leader on Monday morning, releasing the following statement:
"The results of the election in County Durham last week were deeply disappointing for the Labour Party. Unfortunately the outcome was in line with the national and regional picture, and the result of the December 2019 general election.I have had the opportunity to reflect on the situation, and have decided that the time has come for someone else to lead the Labour Group, so I will not be putting my name forward to the Group AGM this weekend.
I am very proud of the Labour county council’s record over the past 12 years, with the creation of over 10,000 new jobs prior to coronavirus, including major companies such as Hitachi choosing to locate in County Durham, plans for 30,000 more jobs now being realised, a world-class events programme and visitor numbers increasing year by year. This is a wonderful county and I believe this legacy is a firm foundation for continued growth across County Durham in the future.It is now the time for someone else to lead us through this next phase. I would like to wish the new leadership every success".
Whoever succeeds Henig may opt for a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and/or independents.
Durham County Council (NOC from Lab)
Labour 53 (-21)
Conservative 24 (+14)
Liberal Democrat 17 (+3)
Green 1 (+1)
Independents 31 (+3)