BURNLEY MP Kitty Ussher is make London her permanent home so she can send her children to school in Westminster.

The MP, who was elected in 2005, said she had made the decision after a great deal of “soul-searching” because of her children, Lizzie, nearly four, and 14-month-old George.

Critics in Burnley have blasted her decision, claiming that the Surrey-born MP has abandoned the town to further her political career.

But former town MP Peter Pike said she had no other option if she wanted to spend time with her children as they grow up.

Yesterday Mrs Ussher, who serves as a Pensions Minister, defended her decision to name her terraced home in Brixton, south London, as her principal address.

She said: “Since Lizzie was born we’ve travelled up and down the country as a family.

“But now that the question of schooling has arisen I have decided I don’t want to see her less than I currently do.

“So we are applying for schools in Westminster. We have been thinking about this over the last few months and this is the first time I’ve said this publicly.

“We will be based in London as a family during the week, and take our children back to Burnley at weekends.”

The MP and her husband Pete Colley bought a home in the Healeywood area of the town in the run-up to the 2005 election and said she was delighted to be living in the town.

Burnley council leader Coun Gordon Birtwistle, who is the Liberal Democrats’ candidate to oust the Labour MP, has condemned her decision to be based in London.

He said: “She will not be living in Burnley, just using it as a bolthole on the few occasions she returns to stay for a night or two.

“Her children are not being educated in Burnley and her primary address will be in London. She will be a live-away MP.

“She will be what she has always been, a London-based MP representing Burnley. The people of Burnley will feel desperately let down that our MP cannot live in the town she represents.”

Tory borough councillor Jonathan Gilbert, who sends his daughter to a church school in Blackburn, said he understood the MP’s educational choices.

But he added: “It is no secret that she is a career politician and this is the natural conclusion to that.

“I can understand that she is a Minister and she is therefore needed in London quite a lot of the time. But I can see how this will be interpreted by local people in Burnley.

“There are many people in Burnley who will not have this choice available to them and it will demonstrate to them how out of touch our MPs are.”

Mr Pike said as a former leader of the council his family had lived in Burnley for a number of years meaning his home arrangements were clearly different for him as an MP.

He added: “Realisitically she had to make this decsion, when the children came to an age where they were going to school.

“She has no option because the majority of her time is spent in London. Jack Straw has been in the same position for years.”

The MP’s decision came as Burnley Conservatives revealed that nearly 700 secondary-school children travel outside of the borough for their education while 338 travelled from outside the borough for their education.

Richard Ali, Tory prospective parliamentary candidate for Burnley, said that the county council figures, equating to 13 per cent of all students, were “shocking” and a sad indictment of Labour educational policies locally.