GENERAL ELECTION 2017: Five throw their hats into the ring to represent Preston

With the General Election looming we begin a week-long look at our constituencies by focusing on the prospects for Preston
With the General Election looming we begin a week-long look at our constituencies by focusing on the prospects for Preston
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From bustling market town and administrative HQ to city player for the 21st century, Preston believes it is now punching above its weight.

With the City Deal, major road construction and a housing boom on its doorstep, things are looking up for an area which has, most recently, shown resilience in weathering the storms of the economy.

Good relationships between public and private sector have triggered new initiatives and better prospects.

It was recently named as the best city to live and work in the north-west region and was ranked 19th in the country.

With civic pride in the regeneration of Winckley Square and high hopes for the bus station refurbishment, plus a new look Fishergate main street, it is a city which believes it is once again going places and has a new self-confidence about marketing itself.

And UCLan has brought prosperity and purpose to parts of the inner city.

But it is also a constituency with pockets of real deprivation and significant social need.

The former dock and cotton town has gained notoriety for high rates of suicide.

Key issues remain congestion – not least for those travelling in and out of the city centre, financial pressures on local government and the knock- on effect of the reduced accident and emergency service at neighbouring Chorley hospital.There is also the question of how big a player Preston can be if power is ever devolved to the region.

Its MP will continue to have the responsibility of reminding funders and business that Preston is not prepared to take a back seat to Manchester and Liverpool, singing the praises of central Lancashire and ensuring some of the neediest citizens in the county are not forgotten.

Political history of the Preston seat

This seat has a long history as a Labour stronghold. Its boundaries include the inner city as well as Ribbleton, Fishwick, Ingol, Ashton, Frenchwood, Deepdale and Brookfield.

The constituency was created in 1983 from Preston North and South and prior to this change the seats had been notable marginals.

Defending candidate Mark Hendrick, a former Euro MP, has been MP since 2000, gaining 56% of the vote and increasing his majority to 12,067 at the general election in 2015 when there was a 56% turnout - 33,469 voters.

He was elected to a seat which was renowned for its Left wing incumbents - Audrey Wise was MP from 1987 to 2000.

In 2010 boundary changes meant more Conservative-leaning rural and Fulwood wards went into Wyre and Preston North.

Past luminaries included Randolph Churchill elected in 1940 and Edward Shackleton, younger son of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who was elected for Labour in 1946.

Keen constituency watchers will note that as a barometer of national sentiment it is one to watch for the positioning of the runners up. In 2015 Tories came second and UKIP third. In comparison in 2010 the Liberal Democrats were second and Tories third, while UKIP gained just 1,462 votes.