BURNLEY Labour Party has chosen its successor to MP Peter Pike -- but she today insisted she wasn't a certainty to win the next election.

Hot-favourite Kitty Ussher won a decisive victory over the other candidates on the all-female short-list -- Debbie Brannan and Carole Galbraith -- when more than 300 party members voted last night.

She has become the party's first ever female parliamentary candidate in the town following the meeting at Byerden House, Colne Road, Burnley.

All three women spoke and members were given the chance to question them before casting their votes to replace Mr Pike, who is retiring.

After the result was announced Kitty, who moved to Burnley last year, said she was delighted.

But the 32-year-old advisor to the secretary of state for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt, who joined the Labour Party in 1991, said the next election would be a tough challenge.

She said: "We cannot be complacent - I think there is a lot of work to do.

"The BNP is a divisive party that I don't believe has the best interests of the town at heart and the Liberal Democrats say whatever they think people want to hear.

"But we need to face the people of Burnley and persuade them that our vision for the town is the same as their vision - this is just the beginning. I have been given a very strong mandate by the members of Burnley Labour Party to go forward and start the real work.

"I am going to go out to every work place, community group, voluntary organisation, school and college and listen to people's concerns so that I can then fight for those issues.

"I am quite determined only the Labour Party has got the vision to take Burnley forward into the 21st century. I will be campaigning strongly on jobs and housing, which I have identified all along as my priorities."

Kitty was born in England, lived in Ireland until she was seven, then moved back to England with her mum and two sisters. She has lived most of her life in London. She is married to Peter, 32, who is an accountant for WH Smith, and the couple currently divide their time between Burnley, where they bought a house last year, and London.

Burnley Council's Liberal Democrat leader, Coun Gordon Birtwistle, who recently revealed that he is making a bid to stand in the general election himself, said: "I am very pleased for her. I hope she does a good job for Burnley if she wins and that she is not just a career politician.

"She will be the first Labour candidate for many years who has not been from the town, which may be something that goes against her. We will certainly be making an issue of it."

Burnley MP Peter Pike, whose daughter Jane put herself forward for the job but did not make it onto the short-list, said: "Kitty Ussher was the clear choice of the Labour Party, now it is up to the party to make sure she wins the next election.

"I will be working for a Labour third term because I believe the party has done a tremendous job.

"I will obviously be voting labour and working for that victory so that we can continue to do the job both locally and nationally."

The leader of Burnley Council, Coun Stuart Caddy, who voted for Kitty, said: "I have been supporting Kitty throughout this campaign, so I am absolutely delighted with the result.

"She will start work tomorrow and I am certainly confident that Burnley will soon have its first female MP."

Coun Peter Kenyon, who has organised the selection process, added: "We are all of us, to the last man and woman, behind Kitty as the candidate."