THE Labour party has been accused of ignoring grassroots members after failing to longlist a prospective candidate.

Labour is looking for a new candidate for the City of Durham constituency following the announcement that current MP Roberta Blackman-Woods will not stand in another election.

A row has broken out of the failure to longlist Esh Winning Labour activist Hannah Walter, who had secured support from 12 Constituency Labour Party (CLP) officers and more than 50 per cent of branch delegates.

One member of the CLP said he was "sad" and "disillusioned" by the decision.

He added: "As far as we are aware Hannah meets all the criteria required to be on the longlist and as a BAME (black and minority ethnic) candidate should have been included to ensure diversity."

He added: "This lack of transparency and the exclusion of at least one candidate with considerable member support is an affront to democracy.

"It seriously undermines the selection process and the assertion we are a member-led party."

The party’s national executive committee (NEC) has taken control of longlisting – the first stage of selections – in Labour-held seats.

It asked staff to fast-track processes ahead of a possible early general election.

But it has sparked frustration among some members, with similar rows in constituencies across the country, with a number of local favourites left off longlists.

Responding, a Labour source said: “The purpose of long lists is to narrow the field so clearly not everyone can be on that list. This is a hotly contested seat with many high-quality applications and of course unsuccessful candidates will be disappointed. Obviously if we didn’t narrow them down, we would never pick a single candidate.”

Ben Sellars, who works for North West Durham MP Laura Pidcock, described the decision as “baffling.”

Writing on social media, he said: “As someone who had the grassroots support of the party left in Durham City, but also the support of many who would not identify in that way, it is a baffling decision which will leave many (if not most) local activists angry and disillusioned.

“The wide support that Hannah has gained is because she worked for it: she has worked her socks off for the constituency party and in her community for months and years.”

Ms Walter said she was disappointed by the decision.

She added: "I have every reason to believe that if the full and democratic selection process had been undertaken that I would have been shortlisted due to receiving branch nominations representing 50 per cent of our members."