LABOUR members in County Durham have made a plea for the national party to “reconnect” with the region by holding a leadership hustings event in the area.

More than 150 members of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) in County Durham have signed a motion, which has been sent to Labour's national executive, asking for leadership hustings to be held at Redhills, in Durham, the home of the Durham Miners' Association.

Describing the recent election of three Conservative MPs to represent tradition Labour strongholds in County Durham as “the unthinkable”, the motion has been signed by members from all six County Durham CLPs, including the chairs of those for Durham, Sedgefield, Bishop Auckland and North West Durham, Durham MP Mary Foy and Alan Mardghum, secretary of Durham Miners' Association.

It follows the election of Conservative MPs Dehenna Davison, Paul Howell and Richard Holden in Bishop Auckland, Sedgefield and North West Durham.

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Paul Daly, chair of Sedgefield CLP, said: "There are a lot of people who really felt that maybe Durham is being seen as a Labour heartland and it was quite misunderstood during the general election campaign.

"We felt it would be nice to have something here to reconnect and rather than go to somewhere corporate that's going to cost a lot of money and doesn't connect with people, why not have it at Redhills, which is so important for so many people in County Durham.

"It was built by working people in County Durham. That's where the Labour party should feel at home."

The motion reads: "For many years we have heard on the doors that Labour have taken the North-East for granted.

"In spite of Jeremy Corbyn's efforts to reinvigorate the link by attendance at Durham Miners' Gala, this was not enough to convince the people of County Durham that Labour is the natural party for them.

"We implore the party to do all it can to reconnect with our area. Candidates for leadership and deputy leadership of the party must connect with people of our great country and be a visible presence in our community. What better way to start than to hold a leadership and deputy leadership hustings with all candidates present in the historic surroundings of Redhills.

"The people of the North-East are proud of the mining heritage of our area and the organising power of the Durham Miners' Association. Redhills is a monument to the power of organised Labour and trade unionism. Let us take this opportunity to show the people of County Durham that we are Labour."

So far six people have announced their bid to become Labour's next leader, while Brent North MP Barry Gardiner has confirmed he is considering a challenge.

Early front runner Sir Keir Starmer was the first to receive the backing of enough Labour MPs to enter the second round and is well ahead in MP endorsements of main rival, Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Other contenders are shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis, and backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy.