BURNLEY was the safest of Labour seats from the end of the Second World War until the 2010 general election.

Then a perfect storm of dissatisfaction with the way Labour had run the council for decades , disillusion with the previous Labour MP and the loss of the town’s accident and emergency unit under a Labour government changed history.

Senior Liberal Democrat councillor Gordon Birtwistle skilfully exploited all three issues so seize the constituency by just 1,818 votes.

Defeated 2010 Labour candidate Julie Cooper is determined to avenge this humiliation and return to Labour majorities of thousands.

With the LibDems support ebbing after five years in collation with the Tories rather than surging as five years ago, veteran Mr Birtwistle has his work cut out.

His main cards are the success of the local economy which saw Burnley declared the UK’s ’Most Enterprising Area’ in 2013, a new minor injuries unit at Burnley General Hospital, and a promised new eye and outpatients unit there.

Bookies odds of 1/6 for Labour and 6/1 for the LibDems demonstrate Mr Birtwistle’s electoral prospects.

The candidates are: Gordon Birtwistle, Liberal Democrat; Sarah Cockburn-Price, Conservative; Tom Commis, UKIP; Julie Cooper, Labour; and Mike Hargeaves, Green.