THE father of England cricketer, Sajid Mahmood, is bidding to topple council leader Cliff Morris in the forthcoming local elections.

The Conservative Party has selected 50-year-old Shahid Mahmood - also the uncle of Amir Khan - to represent them in the Halliwell ward.

A retired policeman, Mr Mahmood only recently entered politics after deciding he wanted to put something back into the community he has lived in for 40 years.

"As soon as I left school I was interested in the law and politics but my late father had the perception that a career in engineering was the best," said Mr Mahmood.

So he trained as a mechanical engineer and worked at British Aerospace until he was made redundant. Several temporary jobs followed, including taxi driving before he joined the police force in 1994, working in various departments including community policing.

He retired in 2006 and it was his doctor who suggested he put his involvement with the community to use in politics.

"I had a think about it and thought that as I had time on my hands, why not give a little bit back to the community," said the father of four.

"I know the problems that exist in the community and want to be the voice of the community."

He says he examined the policies of the various parties and decided that, although he used to vote Labour like the rest of his family, he was more in tune with the views of the Conservative Party.

And he has been welcomed by Conservative leader John Walsh and the Tory prospective parliamentary candidate for Bolton North East, Deborah Dunleavy.

"We welcome him with open arms. The quality of candidates is so important to success in local elections," said Ms Dunleavy.

Mr Mahmood's main concerns are fighting the proposed Greater Manchester congestion charge and the closure of local post offices.

He says he is "pretty confident" his ties with Halliwell will ensure he does well in the elections.

"The majority of the people in the ward know me and know the way I work," he said.

"Cliff Morris has a fight on his hands. He has had it far too easy for the last few years."

Cllr Morris has represented the Halliwell ward for the last 25 years. He became leader of the Labour party in Bolton in May 2003, when Bob Howarth, who had been party and council leader for 23 years, lost his seat Cllr Morris became council leader in 2006 when his party ousted the Lib Dem administration. He has a 1,400 majority in the ward and refuses to be intimidated by Mr Mahmood's family connections.

"He is just like any other candidate we would fight. At the end of the day I will stand by my record," he said.