VOTERS in Winchester have their first Muslim candidate at next month's city council elections.

Abdul Kayum, also known as Miff, is representing the Conservatives in the city centre St Bartholomew ward.

Bangladesh-born Mr Kayum, 31, a married father of one, has lived in Winchester since he was five years old.

He said his religion had presented no problems while canvassing.

"People in Winchester are very fair-minded. If they don't want to vote for me, it's not because of my race or religion. But I think I will win."

His campaign is focusing on issues such as anti-social behaviour, graffiti and litter that undermine people's sense of security.

"The Conservatives have done very well since winning control last May but more could be done," said Mr Kayum, who works for the county council and is also a national prize-winning chef.

He said he tried to stimulate grassroots action - citing the example of the Hyde 900 festival and the campaign for the Hyde Abbey garden to mark the last-known resting place of King Alfred, which raised more than £200,000.

Steve Brine, the Tory prospective parliamentary candidate, said: "Abdul is without doubt one of the most hard-working and dedicated candidates I have seen in Winchester."

Mr Kayum, of Hyde Street, Hyde, is standing against the current mayor, Liberal Democrat Sue Nelmes, Timothy Curran for Labour and the independent Rupert Pitt.