Published in the Leicester Mercury on 27th September 2016
Jack Hickey has been elected as chairman of the Leicester Conservatives.
The Tories have all but been wiped out as a force in the city in recent years and have just one elected member on the city council - to Labour's 52 - and have fallen well behind in mayoral and parliamentary elections.
The Leicester Conservatives have also been beset by infighting which last year resulted in their former local leadership team being sacked after an inquiry by the national party hierarchy.
Mr Hickey, who last year lost out on being elected to represent the city's Thurncourt ward by 90 votes, is seeking to revive Tory fortunes.
He said: "There's no disguising we have had a tough time here but I want a fresh start
"The Leicester Conservatives have entered a new chapter in its history by electing a new young team of campaigners to lead the fight against Peter Soulsby's one party state.
"I'm thrilled to be elected as the new chairman by the members.
"It's about time we got our act together in Leicester to really hold Soulsby to account."
"This will be my primary task - to make us a credible and alternative opposition to Labour.
"Our schools should be performing better, there should be greater scrutiny of his spending decisions, which will saddle future generations with debt and higher council taxes.
"There are areas where it is better to work together - on jobs, economic growth and better transport for residents.
"Isn't it funny when city and county councils come together, everyone benefits? I want to see more of this and a greater willingness of Labour councillors to join in with this success.
"We have a much smaller membership than we used to but it is growing.
"We need to get out and get knocking on people's doors. There are lots of people with Conservative values in Leicester and we need to connect with them."
Mr Hickey said he wanted to work closely with the Leicestershire Conservatives.
Tory county council leader Nick Rushton said, " I'm looking forward to working with Jack and his team. I've met him several times now and know he's a man we can do business with. Very single minded and determined to succeed.
"Soulsby should watch out."
Labour mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "In Leicester the Conservatives are a shadow of what they used to be.
"It would be healthy if they could get their act together but people may have noticed the Labour councillors have been effective in recent years by holding me to account."
Mikey Halford will be the Leicester Conservatives deputy chairman with responsibility for membership.
University of Leicester student James Watts is the new Conservative political deputy chairman and Ali Douas is the secretary.
Ross Grant, the only Tory city councillor, is not part of the senior team.
He said: "I look forward to hearing what their new strategy is."
Mr Hickey has taken over from acting chairman Leigh Higgins who said: "Jack has put together a positive team and is looking to focus on the blue collar Toryism that Theresa May has emphasised.
"He wants to be a champion for people who feel Labour MPs and councillors are letting them down."