Tony Blair's County Durham constituency club to close

Tony Blair at Timdon Labour Club
Image caption Trimdon Labour Club was the scene of Tony Blair standing down announcement

The Labour club which played host to many milestones in Tony Blair's political career is to close.

Trimdon Labour Club was where the then MP for Sedgefield said he was standing for party leadership in 1994.

It was also the setting for three general election victory celebrations and his formal announcement that he was standing down as prime minister.

The club secretary said that finances had been hit by the smoking ban and cheaper supermarket drink prices.

After the club closes next month, the premises will be turned into a new pub, not affiliated with any party.

'Can't compete'

The club was opened by former Labour leader Neil Kinnock in 1993, and during Mr Blair's premiership visitors included the then French prime minister, Lionel Jospin.

Paul Trippett, the club secretary, said: "We're all devastated really, but we are losing money quite steadily and there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.

"The smoking ban did play a part, especially during winter months, but what's really done for us is cheap beer.

"In the club £10 will unfortunately only get you four pints of lager but if you go to one of the big supermarkets, £10 will get you 48 cans.

"Really, you can't compete with that."

The decision to close was made by the committee, following a number of discussions about finances.

"We thought we can do this in two ways," he said.

"We can struggle on until we were forced to close, or we can pay off our creditors and walk out on 22 July with our heads held high."

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