Birmingham mayor hopeful Sion Simon will promise to use the City Council’s £3.5 billion budget to back local employers, as he sets out his key pledges in the campaign to become Birmingham’s first directly-elected mayor.

The former Birmingham Erdington MP, who is campaigning for the chance to run the city, will announce plans for a “Buy Brummie” campaign, with the council awarding contracts to local businesses when possible.

The policy launch is taking place on Tuesday (March 6) in front of an invited audience of Labour supporters, business leaders and people from outside the party who are backing Simon’s bid.

Mr Simon will also announce plans to beat police cuts - by doubling the number of special constables on the streets.

Mr Simon has also campaigned against plans for West Midlands Police to lose 2,764 posts, including 1,165 police officers. But he will set out proposals to increase the number of voluntary officers in a bid to keep streets safe.

Other proposals include the launch a Birmingham Future Jobs Fund, a Birmingham Apprenticeships scheme, and a programme to encourage overseas investment and trade, which Mr Simon believes could together create 30,000 jobs.

He is hoping to become Labour’s candidate for mayor if the city votes “yes” in a referendum on creating a directly-elected mayor on May 3.

But Mr Simon, who quit his job as Labour MP for Erdington to concentrate on the mayoral campaign, faces competition from party rivals including Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart and former city council leader Sir Albert Bore, who also want the Labour nomination.

The Mayoral election itself will be held on November 15 if the referendum returns a Yes vote.

Possible Conservative candidates include city council leader Mike Whitby, while Yardley MP John Hemming could stand for the Liberal Democrats. However, neither politician has confirmed they intend to stand.

Former city council official Mirza Ahmad, a barrister, has said he may stand as an independent.

The policy launch takes place at Cleone Foods Ltd in Hockley, which manufactures more than 100,000 patties a week and employs more than 50 people.

A spokesman for Mr Simon’s campaign said: “Siôn has campaigned non-stop, making the case for an elected mayor and meeting thousands of Brummies in the process.

“He is seeking to answer the question that comes up most frequently: ‘What actual difference would an elected Mayor make to me and my family?”