DURHAM City’s Labour MP said she represented the party of hope after securing the seat for the fourth time on Friday morning.

Roberta Blackman-Woods triumphed over her nearest rival, the Conservative candidate Richard Lawrie, by more than 12,000 votes, ensuring the traditional Labour stronghold remains red for another five years.

The Northern Echo:

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Of the 48,410 ballot papers counted, Mrs Blackman-Woods secured 26,772 votes, Mr Lawrie received 14,408 votes, and Amanda Hopgood, the Liberal Democrat candidate, gained 4,787.

Turnout was 68.06 per cent, almost two per cent up on 2015, with Labour and the Tories both gaining thousands more votes than at the previous general election.

Yet, despite her clear victory, Mrs Blackman-Woods said it had been a closely fought campaign, and praised her opponents.

In her victory speech made immediately after the declaration was called at Spennymoor Leisure Centre, the 59-year-old said: “There was a moment in this election when I thought that perhaps things were about to change but when I was outside a polling station in Belmont this afternoon I met a nurse and her daughter.

“She said to me ‘I voted Labour and my daughter has voted Labour for the very first time’ and she said ‘do you know why? Because Labour is offering us hope.”

Ukip, represented by Malcolm Bint, saw their share of the votes plummet from 5,232, in 2015, to 1,116 this year. The Green Party, represented by Jonathan Elmer, and the Liberal Democrats, represented by Mrs Hopwood, also lost votes, from 2,687, to 797, and from 5,153 to 4,787 respectively.

Shortly after the count begun, Mrs Hopwood said she was expecting to secure third place.

“What we have seen is what the media have portrayed a straight run off between Labour and Conservatives and that seems to be what’s panning out but in Bishop Auckland and Durham City. I think we should secure a comfortable third place.”

Although named Durham City, the constituency also covers more than a dozen villages, mainly former pit communities, where the issues often differ from those in the city.

It has been a Labour seat since 1935.

Mrs Blackman-Woods thanked everyone who had voted for her as well as her team for their support during the campaign, adding: “It is a privilege to represent Durham City.”