A new political party that wants to secure a regional government for the North East has recorded its first victory at the ballot box.
Mary Cartwright, for the North East Party, has won the seat of Eden Hill on Peterlee Town Council in a by-election.
It is a small triumph for a party which was formed just six months ago and wants the region to have its own tax-raising and spending powers.
The town council seat is also the first election the party, led by the former Labour MP Hilton Dawson, has fought.
Susan McDonnell NEP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Easington constituency was encouraged by the win.
She said: “Mary Cartwright will be a fabulous addition to Peterlee Council, standing up for people, independently and well.
“She is a brilliant example of North East Party politics in action, a breath of fresh air to the tired old politics of North East England and she has already shown us that we can win.”
Councillor Mary Cartwright added: “I am absolutely delighted to have won. I am determined to serve the people of Eden Hill well.”
The North East Party wants the region to take control of spending and public services and is expected to field candidates in 12 constituencies across the region in the General Election in May.
Mr Dawson is optimistic the party will attract a following like that of the SNP in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales.
The party will campaign on the North East having its own regional government, with tax and spending powers, and rejecting devolution to city regions or a combined authority.
Mr Dawson said: “The North East Party (NEP) is a newly registered political party which aims to empower the people of North East England in order to improve our communities and all our lives by bringing devolution to our region and by supporting democratic accountability at all levels.
“We intend to stand candidates in 12 North East constituencies at the General Election 2015 and at local level we support candidates in all manner of elections who are prepared to make themselves accountable to the people they are elected to serve. The North East Party ‘stands up for North East England’.”
He added the party, which grew from a public meeting in Newcastle, said appetite is growing for devolution despite the fact a regional assembly was rejected ten years ago.
He said: “One failed referendum in 2004 should not mean that we are denied regional democracy for all time.
“Wales was allowed to return to the question after 18 years, the North East should not have to wait so long.
“Where are the voices from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and London calling for less devolution? If it’s good enough for these parts of the UK it should be good enough for the regions of England.”