KATE Hollern, the current leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, has been selected to stand for Labour in next year’s General Election.

The 57-year-old was a comfortable winner in the ballot in the Windsor Suite of King George’s Hall as Blackburn Labour Party chose their candidate to replace Jack Straw.

Mr Straw, the town’s MP for more than 30 years, announced he was stepping down last year, which sparked a fierce battle in the bid to succeed him.

Coun Hollern, who moved to Blackburn from Scotland 37 years ago, was always the strong favourite to see off competition from Sara Ibrahim, Ann Courtney and Naheed Arshad-Mather.

She has spent 19 years serving on Blackburn with Darwen Council, and is a former manager at Newman’s shoe factory and previously worked at Blackburn College.

Phil Riley, secretary of Blackburn Labour Party, said only one round of voting had been required to select Coun Hollern.

He said: “Kate Hollern received over 50 per cent of the vote in the first ballot, and was therefore elected as the Labour candidate.”

The vote would have gone to a second round had Coun Hollern not received at least half of the votes in the first ballot, but that was not required in the end. Around 150 members of the party gathered to cast their votes.

With 220 postal votes already cast that means around two thirds of the local party’s 550 members have taken part in the process.

Last night Coun Hollern was not available for comment.