THE candidate who will stand for Labour in Darlington at next year’s General Election will be decided next month.

Local party members have selected a final shortlist of four candidates with the next Labour Parliamentary candidate to be decided after a hustings and vote on December 5.

The Northern Echo understands the shortlist is: Darlington Borough Council cabinet member Jenny Chapman; Ferryhill town councillor Pat McCourt; London-based Dan Whittle, who stood for election in Wells, Somerset, in 2005 and Ashton McGregor, a former councillor in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

The selection has been prompted by Darlington MP Alan Milburn’s decision during the summer not to stand in the next General Election.

The four were among up to 30 party members from across the UK who expressed a formal interest in standing for the Darlington seat.

The selected candidate will stand against Edward Legard (Conservative), Mike Barker (Liberal Democrats), Charlotte Bull (UK Independence Party) and John Hoodless (British National Party).


MOTHER-OF-TWO Jenny Chapman was educated in Darlington and read psychology at Brunel University.

She became a prison psychologist before returning to Darlington to work as Alan Milburn's senior Parliamentary researcher.

She took a career break after studying for an MA in archaeology at Durham University.

She was elected as borough councillor for Cockerton West in 2007. She is now a cabinet member for children and young people, chairwoman of Darlington Children's Trust and a founder member of Newblood Live, a youthmusic charity.

Mrs Chapman has been a governor at four Darlington schools and colleges and has been a volunteer, trustee or committee member at various town charities and community groups.


PLUMBER Pat McCourt, from Ferryhill, is leader of Ferryhill Town Council, on which he holds a number of key positions.

He is a school governor and a leading member of trade union Unite.

As a national trade union representative, Mr McCourt has campaigned for high quality new social and council housing and led protest group Defend Council Housing's campaign in Sedgefield.

He was one of five shortlisted members to succeed Tony Blair as Sedgefield MP and has the backing of MEP Stephen Hughes. Mr McCourt's father, Warren, worked closely with Mr Blair in his early days in the area.


A FORMER Look North journalist, Dan Whittle, from London, is a key figure in the UK's leading centre-left think tank, The Fabian Society.

He has been a member of the Young Fabians’ Executive, the co-operative party youth committee representing London, chair of the Parliamentary branch of Unite and director of Unions 21, an organisation promoting discussion on the future of the trades union movement.

Originally a broadcast reporter, Mr Whittle completed an MA in journalism at Leeds University, before working as a radio reporter for BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Newcastle and Look North.

He has also worked as a Parliamentary researcher for South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove, when he received the Labour Researcher of the Year Award.

Mr Whittle stood for Labour in the 2005 General Election in Wells, Somerset, where he finished third, with 15.7 per cent ofthe vote behind Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt and Tory David Heathcoat-Amory.

Mr Whittle is a Territorial Army officer, and has previously been a school governor, and voluntary worker for the charity CAFOD.


ORIGINALLY from the region, Ashton McGregor is now a senior manager in the Metropolitan Police, where he works on improving specialist units such as firearms, public order (major events) and air and marine support.

Hailing from the North-East, Mr McGregor was educated in Yarm and worked in a car components factory in Stockton as well as in a laboratory at a chemicals company in Billingham.

Mr McGregor has extensive experience in the public sector and has worked as a civil servant in the Home Office, Department of Health and the former Department of Trade and Industry, as well as in NHS trusts across England.

Previously an advisor to Home Office Policing Bureaucracy Taskforce, where he reported to Policing Minister John Denham, he was also formerly a board member of local housing and regeneration bodies.

Mr McGregor has also sat on management committees of youth and pensioner charities and was appointed to a housing non-departmental Government body by Housing Minister Geoff Rooker.

He has also represented Limehouse, on the London borough council of Tower Hamlets. He is vice-chairman of the Chinese for Labour group, promoting the interests of Chinese people in the party.