A FORMER local and county councillor has become the first woman chairman of Blackburn Conservative Association.

Ann Law-Riding, who represented Pleckgate and Brownhill in the 1980s and 1990s, will lead the association as it fights the forthcoming local elections and the next general election.

Mrs Law-Riding said how pleased she was to to have been chosen and despite poor opinion poll showings for the Conservatives nationally the local party remained "upbeat" as polling day approaches on Thursday, May 3.

She added: "In the general election we are fielding a strong candidate in John Cotton. Mr Straw for the first time is defending his seat as a government minister and instead of criticism of other parties has to answer for broken promises made by Mr Blair and other government ministers."

President of the local Conservative Association is George Kirby, and Maureen McGarvey and Keith Burke are deputy chairmen. The Ladies' chairman is Margaret Miller and treasurer is Bernard Miller.

Mrs Law-Riding added: "I am lucky to have a dedicated team of officers who I know will work diligently as a team to support the Conservative cause."