THE seat has returned just two MPs since it was recreated as a single constituency in 1955, Labour’s Barbara Castle and Jack Straw.

Normally an ultra-safe seat, for the first time in decades, there is a whiff of a contest with former local police boss Bob Eastwood offering a credible challenge for the Conservatives.

Former Cabinet Minister Mr Straw stood down and borough council leader Kate Hollern takes up the challenge for Labour with all the plusses and minuses her previous post brings.

In 2010, Mr Straw won for Labour by 9,856 votes with the Conservatives second. His majority never dropped below 3,055 at his party’s lowest point under Margaret Thatcher’s premiership after the Falklands War.

The effect of a UKIP candidate on the two main contenders is uncertain while an experienced Liberal Democrat candidate should keep their vote up above 5,000.

Key issues emerging from the Lancashire Telegraph debate are the town’s night time economy, Europe and immigrations. The town centre redevelopment and levels of deprivation in the town are also playing strongly., The bookies offer odds of 1/100 for a Labour win in a seat where the main question is how much the Tories can cut Labour’s majority.

The candidates are: Bob Eastwood, Conservative; Kate Hollern, Labour; Gordon Lishman, Liberal Democrat; and Dayle Taylor, UKIP.