A BURNLEY councillor, mother of two and leader of the local Labour Group will represent the party at the next General Election.
Mrs Julie Cooper of Halifax Road, Briercliffe, was selected on Saturday to be Burnley Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate when the country goes to the polls, probably in May.
A new candidate had to be found to represent Labour when MP Kitty Ussher announced she would not stand for re-election.
Mrs Cooper, who has been a Bank Hall ward councillor since May 2005, beat off opposition from three male candidates, former county councillors Marcus Johnstone and Tony Martin, who lost their seats at the last elections, and solicitor Nasir Ilyas.
There was an outcry earlier this year when Labour's National Executive declared Burnley's candidate should be drawn from an all-female list, as it was when Kitty Ussher was selected to fight the 2005 election. Burnley Labour Party objected and eventually the NEC did a U turn and allowed an open list for men and women.
After Saturday's meeting Mrs Cooper, a qualified English teacher who has run a pharmacy business with her husband in Burnley for 23 years, said: "It's a great privilege to have been selected by the members of Burnley to represent my home town and stand up and fight for the people in this constituency. This town has been represented by a Labour MP since 1935 and I'm determined to continue this proud tradition.
"Burnley has an exciting future after Labour has invested in a new university and schools, children's centres, free swimming and increased help for pensioners. Labour has also taken action to support the economy, helping businesses and families through the downturn.
"I know there's still a lot of hard work to be done and I'm going to get out and hear what issues matter to people on the doorstep. The next election will be a big choice about the change we want. The Lib Dem-run council has failed to deliver on its promises and nationally they can't win.
"The Tories are a change people in this town simply can't afford. I will be fighting for a better future for all. Only Labour will continue to make a real difference for the people of Burnley."
Chairman of Burnley Labour Party Mr Peter Pike said: "We're delighted Julie has been selected. I feel confident that whenever the election comes along Labour now has the best candidate for Burnley.
"The next election will be a big choice about the change we want. Julie is from Burnley, loves the town and is the best person to fight for Burnley in Westminster.
"Burnley not only needs a Labour Government we also need a Labour MP. A vote for anyone else locally would be supporting a Tory win nationally and I know people locally do not want that."