The Communities Secretary, Ruth Kelly, has confirmed that she will be contesting the constituency she currently represents at the next general election.

There had been rumours that Ms Kelly would abandon Bolton West for the safer Bolton South East constituency, whose sitting MP is retiring at the next election.

She is the cabinet minister with the most marginal seat.

Members of the Bolton West constituency Labour party are due begin the process this week of re-selecting Ms Kelly as their candidate at the next election.

At the 2005 general election, Ms Kelly’s majority was 2,064, or 5% of the total votes cast.

The Bolton West seat has recently been subject to changes after a Boundary Commission for England review.

While these changes actually make the seat safer, with a nominal 7.8%, the constituency covers the affluent commuter belt between Bolton and Wigan.

It will be a key target for the Conservatives at the next election.

Susan Williams, leader of Trafford Council since 2004, is the Tory candidate. If elected she would be the first Conservative MP for the seat in almost 100 years.

In 2005 the Conservative candidate polled 37.4% to Labour’s 42.5%, with the Lib Dems on 17.9%.

Ms Kelly has been the subject of constant criticism in recent months from her own party after she attempted to secure an opt-out for Roman Catholic adoption agencies from the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

The 38 year-old mother of four, a devout Roman Catholic, has refused to state her views on homosexuality, despite being the Cabinet minister with responsibility for equality.

Labour activists were furious when it was revealed that Ms Kelly had removed her special needs son from local authority education and sent him to a private, fee-paying school.

As Education Secretary, she was responsible for closing many special needs schools.

Constituency Labour party chairman Cliff Morris told The Bolton News he welcomed Ms Kelly’s decision to seek re-election in Bolton West.

“Nobody likes negative publicity, but at the end of the day we know she’s up there doing a good job. The fact she is in such a high-profile job helps Bolton a great deal.”