A councillor is in the running to replace a controversial MP.

Maria Caulfield, a Conservative councillor for Brighton and Hove City Council, is on the shortlist for the parliamentary seat of Gosport in Hampshire.

If selected, she will replace the current MP, Sir Peter Viggers, who agreed to step down after the MP’s expenses scandal earlier this year.

But fellow councillors have said Coun Caulfield, who is also the council’s cabinet member for Housing, should be focussing more on local issues.

Anne Meadows, a Labour councillor for Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, said: “Her priorities must be questioned.

“It is clear that Maria Caulfield’s own political ambitions come before local residents living in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean."

Coun Caulfield was confirmed as one of the six candidates on the shortlist yesterday.

She will be interviewed by the local Conservative Association before the list is narrowed down to four.

This will be announced at a meeting on November 20.

The 73,000 registered voters will then choose the Conservative candidate for the seat in an open primary, with the results in early December.

Alan Scard, chairman of the Gosport Conservative Association, said: “We had a lot of interest in the seat and Maria is one of the candidates to be on the shortlist.

“There were about 190 applications for the post and we have narrowed this down to six."

In August Mr Scard was quoted as saying he would be happy with a female candidate “if they are attractive”.

Coun Caulfield confirmed she was on the shortlist but declined to comment any further while the selection process was ongoing.