The public will be asked to help choose the Conservative candidate for the post of West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, after Tories announced they were holding an open primary in which anyone can vote.

Former police officer Joe Tildesley, who served the force for 30 years and became regional chair of the Police Federation, and former senior Birmingham councillor Matt Bennett, have been placed on the shortlist for the role.

But the final decision will be made in an open primary in which any registered voter living in the area served by West Midlands Police can take part, whether they are Conservative supporters or not.

The winner will become the Conservative candidate in the election of a new police commissioner, on November 15.

Labour has already picked Wolverhampton councillor Bob Jones as its candidate.

Liberal Democrats have not chosen a candidate, although lawyer Ayoub Khan, a former Lib Dem councillor, has said he hopes to stand.

Conservatives argued their decision to hold an open primary demonstrated a commitment to ensuring the Commissioner represented public opinion.

Jim Cooper, chairman of the party’s organising committee, said: “The new Police and Crime Commissioner will be elected to represent the views of the public – we believe the public should have a voice in selecting our candidate.

“The Labour Party have restricted the choice to their members only.”

Mr Bennett was a councillor in Birmingham for Stockland Green ward from 2008 to 2012 and became executive member for Children’s Social Care, putting him in charge of the city’s social services department.

Coun Tildesley is a Solihull councillor and the borough’s cabinet member for Education, Children and Young People.

He retired from West Midlands Police in 2002 having achieved the rank of Inspector.

The two rival candidates will take part in open primary hustings meetings across the West Midland Police force area, including in Erdington, Birmingham, on July 4, Walsall on July 5, Halesowen on July 10 and Solihull on July 11.

More details, and details of how to vote in the primary, are available on the Conservative wesbsite at

Police commissioners will appoint chief constables and will also have the power to hold them to account, including ordering them to prepare reports into the force’s activities and even dismissing them, if they feel it is necessary.

They will have to set out a five-year police and crime plan, decide how large a precept to charge local council tax payers and set the force’s budget.