Harborough councillor Dr Paul Bremner has taken a big step up in his political career after being selected by the Conservatives to stand for Mayor of Leicester.
If successful, he would move from representing just under 5,000 people in Market Harborough’s Logan ward to representing the 330,000 people of one of England’s largest and most rapidly expanding cities.
The 46-year-old De Montfort University lecturer says he will be standing down as a Conservative district councillor before the next local election, on May 7.
Dr Bremner faces a tough task. The current Labour mayor Sir Peter Soulsby was elected in May 2011 with a huge majority of 37,260.
Dr Bremner is a senior lecturer in pharmacy at De Montfort, and a well-known figure on its university campus – but virtually unknown in Leicester political circles.
But Dr Bremner told the Mail: “I believe Leicester has a problem – with too much power in one section of the Labour party.
“We’re out to give Labour a metaphorical bloody nose in this election.
“Whether that’s a knock-out punch, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Dr Bremner, who is married with two children, said he planned to continue living in Market Harborough while fighting to be the Mayor of Leicester.
“But most of my daylight hours are spent working in Leicester and enjoying the facilities of Leicester, like the Curve theatre or De Montfort Hall – my daughter was in a play there recently,” he said.
“And everyone I’ve contacted about this recently has said ‘fantastic, well done’.”
He agreed that he faced a difficult battle to oust sir Peter as Leicester’s mayor.
“Just look at Leicester City Council, and you’ll see they’ve got an overwhelming majority of Labour representatives,” he admitted.
But he said he was not comfortable with the way Leicester moved to an elected mayoral system, without proper public consultation.
He said: “The idea of an elected mayor was never put to the people of Leicester.
“I would have a referendum on the subject.”
And he said he was unhappy with certain aspects of the way an elected mayor has such a big say in how a city is run.
He said: “An elected mayor is good for the mayor, and a small controlling group.
“It’s rubbish for accountability, for transparency and for listening to the community’s views.”
He said that as an educationalist himself, one of his priorities, if he was elected, would be the city’s schools.
He said: “I want to focus on how schools are performing, and how the local authority supports them.
“And I want to be a spokesman for a dynamic city, raising the profile of Leicester in the region, in the country and internationally”.