WOULD-be South Shields MP Coun Mark Walsh has the overwhelming support of his party locally, it has emerged.
South Shields Constituency Labour Party is determined a candidate born and raised in the town will fight the forthcoming by-election.
And party stalwarts say Coun Walsh fits that bill.
All sections of the town party have spoken out to declare their support for the 46-year-old.
Long-serving Labour Party member Coun Gladys Hobson, of the West Park ward, said: “I have been a Labour Party member for more than 50 years.
“We have never had a local person and the people of South Shields want someone from the town.
“I have known Mark since he joined the Labour Party when he was 15. He is a grafter for the party and will be a solid MP.”
Coun John McCabe, chief whip of South Tyneside Labour group of councillors, launched a poll of councillors from South Shields once Coun Iain Malcolm decided not to run – and found solid support for Coun Walsh.
He said: “Councillors from South Shields were steadfast in their support for Mark Walsh.”
Coun Pat Hay, secretary of the local party’s Women’s Forum, said: “The view of the women members who had contacted me was that they would support Mark Walsh.”
Former borough mayor Coun Alex Donaldson added: “Mark Walsh was a councillor in the area for a number of years and was at the start of major discussions which kick-started the Cleadon Park regeneration programme.”
Whitburn councillor and cabinet member, Coun Tracey Dixon, added: “I actually went to school with Mark Walsh.
“He’s been a fantastic councillor and deserves a chance to be considered.”