ONE OF Southampton's most colourful and controversial politicians is on the comeback trail.

Former city housing and regeneration boss, Paul Jenks, pictured, is standing for the Labour Party in the Bassett ward after a 12 month absence from city politics.

Mr Jenks - whose brother Peter Marsh Jenks is currently Labour's finance spokesman - bowed out of city politics following last year's elections, when he was sensationally defeated in the Sholing ward.

Prior to that, he had spent nearly a year in the effective political wilderness after it was claimed he made a controversial gesture to St Mary's resident Harjap Singh during elections in May 2002.

The resulting row led to the then Cllr Jenks' resignation from one of the highest profile Cabinet posts in the city - head of communities and regeneration - and the loss of his Cabinet salary of £13,584 a year.

At the time, it seemed like Mr Jenks' glittering career in local politics which began in 1987, was over.

Mr Jenks served on the Local Government Association during his time with the city council and was one of the leading lights in Southampton's multi-million-pound Single Regeneration project in St Mary's.

During the past 12 months, he has been acting as a consultant for councils on housing and regeneration issues.

He said: "I had to go through a thought process after I was defeated. I could not work for the council and could not work in housing and I did not want to move so I set up my own consultancy. I am very keen to return to the local government scene."