TEN women are now understood to have expressed an interest in replacing Derek Foster as the MP for Bishop Auckland.

The latest to throw her hat into the ring is Gateshead councillor Denise Robson, who stood against Theresa May in Maidenhead in the 1997 General Election.

Married to a former railwayman and with children aged 20 and 12, Mrs Robson manages projects to help people in South Tyneside who are long-term unemployed.

Mrs Robson said: "Shildon's railway museum is a fine memorial to past industrial achievement.

"But a return to the manufacture of freight wagons: think what that could mean both for jobs in the local area and for the sake of the environment.

"I'm in politics to find ways of making those big changes."

Labour has decided that only women will be considered to replace the retiring Mr Foster.

The Northern Echo understands that former North-East MEP Mo O'Toole, Tees-side opera singer Suzannah Clarke, Darlington councillors Cyndi Hughes and Lee Vasey, and former European candidate Joanne Thompson have all put their names forward.

It is believed that Downing Street speechwriter Liz Lloyd also wishes to be considered.

Women wishing to inherit Mr Foster's 13,926 majority must apply by Thursday.

The party's National Executive Committee will then select a shortlist - probably of between four and six names - for the Bishop Auckland party to choose from on Saturday, March 5.