A Birmingham MP is taking legal action against the Government over what he claims is an attempt to remove him from the chairmanship of an organisation charged with driving forward urban renewal in the city.
John Hemming has begun the process of seeking a judicial review against the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in an attempt to remain chairman of the Birmingham Strategic Partnership.
He was appointed in June 2004 when he became deputy leader of Birmingham City Council.
Mr Hemming said he had been told verbally by the Government Office for the West Midlands that, because he is now an MP and no longer deputy council leader, he ought to quit as BSP chairman.
Pressure was being placed on him with a series of "sly meetings in corners", he claimed.
Mr Hemming, who remains a Liberal Democrat city councillor, has the backing of Tory council leader Mike Whitby and is fighting to remain at the head of the highly influential BSP - a body which brings together executives representing the council, police, businesses, universities and voluntary and faith sectors in Birmingham.
The body, one of a number of strategic partnerships across the country set up by the Government, has a remit to tackle deprivation and oversee more than £100 million of Neighbourhood Renewal Fund expenditure in Birmingham.
Mr Hemming, in a formal pre-action protocol letter to Regeneration Minister David Miliband, described the GOWM ' s attitude as "perverse", adding that there is a precedent for his position since the Hartlepool local strategic partnership is also chaired by an MP.
He also claimed that the GOWM had suggested that Birmingham might lose £32 million in Neighbourhood Renewal Fund money if he did not resign as BSP chairman.
The letter added: " Information is sought as to the justification of this decision which has been communicated verbally by Graham Garbutt, the GOWM director. There has been an inappropriate level of documentation with sly meetings in corners rather than an upfront communication that is in clear terms."
The purpose of the judicial review is to force the ODPM to agree that the chairmanship of the BSP is a matter for the leadership of Birmingham City Council to decide.