The manager of Birmingham's Broad Street Business Improvement District has launched his bid to become the first elected West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.
Former Birmingham councillor Mike Olley hopes to secure backing to stand as Labour Party candidate for the newly created role in November next year.
Mr Olley who, since retiring from the City Council in 2005, has been the Broad Street BID manager, feels the time is right for a return to frontline politics.
He plans to lead his campaign with a pledge to tackle the growing problem of scrap metal thieves.
If elected as commissioner, he would be responsible for overseeing and setting policy and budgets for West Midlands Police. That responsibility could include the right to hire and fire the Chief Constable.
His resignation from the City Council followed a failed bid to oust Sir Albert Bore as leader of the opposition Labour Group, in which he lost by 15 votes to 29, after which he took up the Broad Street post.
As well as working to boost the profile of Broad Street as its first and so far only BID manager he has also, for the past two years, written a weekly newspaper column in the Birmingham Mail.
A recent brush with the law included a charity boxing match in 2009 with then West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, and to viewers of Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me show he is known as the man who warms cheese in his pocket.
His first statement on crime is to join those, including the rail industry, calling for tight regulation of the scrap metal industry in a bid to stop thieves.
He said: “Criminals involved in this type of crime are merciless in their actions. War Memorials and manhole covers straight off the road are common prey.
"Each day, thousands of train travellers suffer delays due to vital communication cable theft and schools and churches are regularly targeted.
“There is an urgent need to address the ancient Steptoe & Son legislation and bring it up to date.
“West Midlands Police has achieved much, however this needs to be rolled out across the force area and with more vigour and focus.”
War Memorials such as Barr Beacon, public buildings such as Perry Common Library in Kingstanding and church spires have also been stripped of metals, while train commuters have suffered hours of delays due to the thefts.
Mr Olley says the Scrap Metal Dealers Act of 1964 is out of date and is calling for more technology to be used to record the sales and process.
He added, “Scrap dealers need to lawfully register before they can trade. We also need to introduce photographic evidence of each load purchased by dealers. This needs to include the load, van and driver.
“Traffic wardens do this when they issue a parking ticket.
“David Cameron has condemned the actions of the sickening thefts of War Memorials and now he needs to act.”
Mr Olley says he too was a victim of crime when he had lead stolen off his roof. Fortunately he spotted it early before the weather got in.
“This cost me about £300 to fix. The thief probably got a fiver for the metal,” he said.
West Midlands Royal Marine and George Cross-winning war hero Matt Croucher has backed Mr Olley’s crusade against the metal thefts.
“It’s beyond belief that war memorials become targets for thieves. They are sacred symbols of men and woman who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. I welcome Mike’s and anyone’s contribution to this issue. It’s action that we need to curb this rotten crime.”