DARLINGTON’S newly-elected MP has pledged to chain herself to the railings of the town’s central library to prevent the council selling it to a private developer.

“The building needs to have a community use and a community ownership, which can take many forms these days,” said Jenny Chapman, who was re-elected for a third time, with a slightly increased majority. “It cannot be sold to be turned into a TK Maxx or a pub. I will chain myself to the railings to stop that.”

The Labour council’s plans to close the library and move its services into the Dolphin leisure centre were a major issue on the doorstep during the campaign, with the other candidates – Peter Cuthbertson for the Conservatives, Anne-Marie Curry for the Lib Dems, Matthew Snedker for the Greens and Kevin Brack for Ukip – all pledging to keep the library open.

“If I’m completely honest, there’s a challenge from the voters of Darlington to me about the council and some of its decisions,” said Ms Chapman. “They want to see me challenge the council in the way I challenge other public sector bodies because people have a sense that the town is going down.

“The council has suffered 40 per cent cuts so the library building must bring in income. The council needs to be flexible and creative in working with other people so that the building has to be kept in community ownership and always accessible to the public.”

She pledged to keep up her campaign to prevent the town's Memorial Hospital’s A&E department being downgraded.

During the campaign, it was noticeable that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn leapfrogged over the tight Labour-held seats of Darlington, Sedgefield and Bishop Auckland where the MPs, including Ms Chapman, have been critical of his leadership.

“I think people have had enough of fighting each other within the Labour Party and this election proved we can coalesce around a strong manifesto,” she said. “We need to focus on policies not on personalities. We need to move on.

“But we didn’t win the election because there are doubts in the public mind about our credibility on spending and defence and security, and they must be addressed if we are to win the next election.

“I now believe we can win it, which is not something I’ve thought for a long time.”

Darlington was seen as a nationally important seat as Ms Chapman was defending a 3,158 majority. Such was Theresa May’s intent on winning it, that she visited it on the first full day of the campaign to bolster Mr Cuthbertson. With the polls pointing to a substantial Labour defeat, Ms Chapman had not even prepared a victory speech for when the result was declared at 1am on Friday.

“I was prepared to lose,” she said. “I was ready to concede defeat and congratulate Peter Cuthbertson.

“When the election was called there was a mood to support Theresa May, but as the campaign progressed, voters had a good look at her, remembered what the Tories are really like and looked at their manifesto.

“In the end it was anti-arrogance election. It was about voters saying to Theresa May that you don’t get this all your own way, and they said the same in Scotland to the SNP and I think they said the same in Stockton South.”

Mrs Chapman increased her majority by 122 and her share of the vote by 7.7 per cent, although Mr Cuthbertson also increased his share of the vote by 8.1 per cent as the three smaller parties crumbled away.

The unfortunate Ukip candidate Kevin Brack not only saw his share of the vote fall by 10 per cent, but he broke his shoulder blade falling on some house steps during campaigning and then had two fingers on his other hand bitten by a dog through a letterbox.