OXFORD West and Abingdon MP Evan Harris has declared his seat “marginal” at the forthcoming General Election.

The Liberal Democrat beat off a Tory challenge by more than 7,000 votes in 2005 but admitted it will be a close race this time around.

Dr Harris, who has held the seat since 1987, said: “It’s marginal and I’m not taking anything for granted so if people don’t want to see the Tories in power they should vote for me.

“Canvassing around the town has been interesting and people seem happy that I’m one of the innocent MPs when it comes to the expenses scandal.”

Dr Harris said investment was needed in the science base to create and retain jobs in the area, and development needed to be concentrated on meeting the housing need.

He added: “I will continue to campaign for the county council to recognise the failure of the Abingdon traffic scheme and press the Government for money to solve the traffic problems in the long-term.”

Dr Harris is one of five candidates.

Last night his closest rival, Tory Nicola Blackwood, said she could win the seat.

She said: “The Conservatives are the only party to guarantee increased NHS spending every year of the next Parliament and make sure that local services, like the Abingdon Community Hospital, are protected.

“I’m also campaigning for radical school reform and for pensioners to get a better deal.

“It will be close and I think we can win.”

UK Independence Party candidate Paul Williams said: “People on the doorsteps are fed up of MPs and I think we will do very well.

“We want more freedom from Europe so we can make our own decisions.”

Richard Stevens, representing Labour, said he would be campaigning on the economy, social care and local services.

He added: “Abingdon is a very vibrant place for business and we want to make sure it thrives.”

Green Party candidate Chris Goodall said: “Our three key issues are building an economy which generates better equality for people, the environment and decentralising power back to people.

“It’s important people in Oxford West and Abingdon are given a greater say in what happens in their communities.”