ELECTION NEWS: TUSC by-election candidate Dave Nellist launch rally: “Send somebody to Westminster who’s going to shake up the establishment and who can’t be bought by the system.”

By Erdington Local election news team

Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate Dave Nellist started his campaign for the upcoming Birmingham Erdington on Saturday, 12 February – with a launch rally at Highcroft Community Centre, Stockland Green.

In attendance with Nellist was former Derby North Labour MP Chris Williamson, who opened proceedings with a long and passionate speech.

Williamson displayed his frustrations at the current political system and identified a large number shortcomings by the Labour run Birmingham City Council.

He branded the current state of affairs in Parliament as “neo-liberalism” and reiterated points made previously by Nellist – including the two main political parties being “blue Tories” and “red Tories”, and Labour letting working class people down.

Williamson added: “We have a cost of living crisis. We saw the Tories break their solemn pledge that pensions would increase in line with wage rises and inflation. The Labour Party just sat on their hands in response.”

The atmosphere at the Highcroft Centre was positive, with applause erupting during multiple parts of Williamson’s address and most seats taken up by keen party members and constituents.

The speech strayed at times from Erdington focused issues, pointing out national flaws/scandals, but gradually came back to focus on issues local constituents were more familiar with.

Williamson said: “the Labour Party is broken in terms of the Westminster situation, but it is also broken on a local level?

“What is the Local Authority doing about the housing crisis? Or rough sleepers? Or people struggling and waiting for years in order to secure Council housing.”

Held at the Highcroft Community Centre in Stockland Green, Dave Nellist’s official launch rally was in the heart of an area greatly affected by HMO and exempt accommodation, something which was brought up regularly.

Dave Nellist, who had been delayed in getting to the venue, was eventually introduced by Ted Woodley, an RMT union representative.

Nellist began by stating: “The government are spending over £100 billion on HS2 to get people to and from Birmingham and London 15 minutes quicker, and it’s taken me over 90 minutes to get here from Coventry.”

Following a short introduction, detailing his political past as Labour’s Coventry South East MP and Coventry City councillor for both the TUSC and Socialist Alliance, he added: “I think I am the best qualified and most experienced candidate in this election, by far.”

He mentioned the recent campaign to save Short Heath Playing Fields, having met with campaigners earlier in the week – sympathising and describing the same situation he faced as a Coventry Councillor, and the solution that worked at Charterhouse Fields.

Mr Nellist also included in his address the recent loss of jobs at the GKN Chester Road factory, something which Jack Dromey passionately fought to stop right up until his recent death.

Nellist told the crowd: “the loss of jobs and the offshoring of peoples livelihoods could have been stopped.

“The Tories could have nationalised GKN, and kept the factory and the jobs in this constituency.

“I will not be a manager like my main two opponents in this election, acting as different wings of the establishment, but a shop steward who acts on behalf of working people and their families.”

He reiterated how MPs are overpaid; Nellist well known for giving up a large chunk of his salary whilst representing Coventry South East in the House.

He added: “when a heating bill comes through your door in April and it’s £60 a month more than what you were paying before, it feels a lot different for ordinary working families than it will for an MP on £82,000 a year. MPs are insulated from modern day problems.”

The response from the crowd was agreeable, with many of Nellist’s points being answered by applause.

The floor was then opened up for people to add their comments and questions, which included the problems from ill managed HMOs and exempt housing, rogue landlords, and how the Commonwealth Games is a “vanity project” taking money away from addressing the homelessness crisis – with significant negativity towards the current Labour run City Council.

In contrast to other campaign launches Erdington Local has attended, there was more structure and organisation to Dave Nellist’s rally, including the use of a microphone, seating being arranged, and an opportunity for local residents to put forward comments, questions, and concerns.

As the 3 March polling day approaches, Dave Nellist’s campaign could gather yet more momentum and attract left leaning Labour voters – making a dent in other campaigns and holding a serious question mark over what some consider a ‘safe seat.’

With a total of twelve candidates contesting the Birmingham Erdington seat and just under three weeks to go until poling day, this by-election is by no means a certainty at this stage.

For more on Dave Nellist and his campaign to beomce the next Erdington MP visit www.nellistforerdington.com

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Ed’s note…

Dave Nellist came into the Erdington Local newsroom earlier in the week, to talk about his campaign and introduce himself to us – the constituency newspaper. It was not a planned interview, although I did take the opportunity to press record and get some of Mr Nellist’s thoughts on record.

As anyone who knows me personally can attest, I am fiercely apolitical – and Erdington Local has no bias to one party or ideology. Never has; never will. We welcomed Mr Nellist, quite simply, because he asked to come and see us.

The conversation was fascinating, and lasted for well over an hour, resulting in 12 pages of transcript. This did, sadly, make writing it up a somewhat herculean endeavour – even aided by the wonder of modern technology.

Below is a surmised account of some of our conversation, presented as a Q&A – akin to the format of engagement at Dave Nellist’s campaign launch rally.

Many people are increasingly concerned about rising energy prices and the general cost of living. If elected, how would you address this for people in Erdington?

“I think we’re heading into the worst cost of living crisis that we’ve seen probably for 20 or 25 years. And we’ve got a widening gap between the very rich within society and the rest. And in parallel a narrower gap between the main big parties.

“Without trade union based socialist campaign in the (Birmingham Erdington) by-election, it will just be a discussion about how working people should bear the brunt of austerity, not whether they should.

“Our public services should be publicly owned, publicly financed, and better publicly controlled than we’ve had nationalised industries in the past – cutting people’s gas and electricity bills, whilst using a good chunk of those profits to invest more rapidly in renewables and other forms of clean energy.”

You famously gave up the majority of your MP salary whilst representing Coventry South East, would you do the same for Erdington?

“Yes, absolutely.

“I was 14 years a City Councillor in Coventry, whilst working for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) all that time as a debt and welfare right specialist – representing hundreds of people over social security tribunals, stopping evictions, stopping bankruptcies, and supporting people over disability rights and incapacity benefits.

“And whilst I was a City Counsellor I received a £10,000 pound a year for allowances – I reduced my hours, so I wasn’t earning anything more than an average CAB worker whilst also in Council employment.

“I don’t think in my life I’ve earned more than £29,000 pounds, even though I’ve been in jobs that earn two or three times that salary in today’s money.” 

Erdington’s last MP, Jack Dromey, came from a trade union background into politics. Are you hoping to gather similar momentum as TUSC candidate?

“I’m not going to pretend to claim I’m at the level Jack was (in the union) – Jack was, you know, a leader of our union, Unite. But I’ve been a member of Unite and its predecessors for 48 years, always as an active member.

“For example, I’ve spent most of the last three weeks at six, seven o’clock in the morning on picket lines in Coventry – supporting the bin workers strike that we’ve got going on at the moment.” 

Many of our readers want to see a local candidate become the next MP. What about concern’s that you don’t live in Erdington?

“So, firstly, and it’s a bit trite, but I’m from the next but one constituency – Coventry North West. It might be 18 miles away but I’m only 25minutes away by car, it’s probably easy for me to get here (Erdington) than somebody from South Birmingham.

“But if elected, I would open an Erdington office with immediate daytime access for people to come in with problems or what have you.”

You have talked about getting socialist candidates in local and general elections, to give an alternative to the “red Tories” and “blue Tories” in the leading political parties. Are you, as the TUSC, trying to do the job the Labour Party was originally set up to do?

“Yes. Simply, yes. But I would also say we also want to, hopefully, re-enthuse almost half the population of Erdington that can’t see the difference between anything that’s an offer at the last general election and didn’t vote.

“Okay, how do you offer something different in a succinct term that people can grab hold of?

“We’re fighting for a £15-pound an hour minimum wage. We want to see a 50% rise in the value of pensions and of benefits. We want to see more Council homes, and whilst we have private landlords, we want to see them regulated. And once they’re registered, you can tackle a whole host of problems from fly tipping and rubbish up to the quality of the accommodation that often young people have been pushed into.

“I think we (TUSC) could inspire local people to get back involved in politics because it could make a fundamental difference in their lives.”

If you could sum up your campaign in a slogan?

“Send somebody to Westminster who’s going to shake up the establishment and who can’t be bought by the system.”

ELECTION NEWS: Secretary of State for Education outlines additional “£3000 tax free” for new Erdington STEM teachers, whilst on campaign trail with Conservative MP candidate Robert Alden

By Erdington Local election news team

During a visit to Erdington on Friday, 11 February, the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi MP, told Erdington Local:

“What I’m trying to do is make sure that where we need additional teachers, like Erdington, in subjects like STEM, we actually say: ‘Look, in your first five years as a new teacher, we will give you an additional £3000 tax free, if you move to Erdington, to help us on this endeavour.”

He added: “To deliver a great education you need great teachers, so another thing I’m doing is half a million teacher training opportunities, so anyone reading this who wants to become a teacher come forward. We have the best teacher training opportunities in the world, in my view.”

On the campaign trail with Conservative MP hopeful Robert Alden, the Tory frontbencher was speaking about his strategy to support education after the Coronavirus crisis – during a visit to the colloquially known Ghousia Mosque on Slade Road, Stockland Green.

Keen to see Robert Alden “join him on the green benches,” Mr Zahawi urged local voters to support the Erdington Ward councillor as he makes his bid for Erdington MP on Thursday 3, March.

The Education Secretary went on to promise that every child will have access to a tutor via The National Tutoring Program.

He told: “We’ve listened to schools, and we’ve put in almost £600 million allowing schools to access their own tutors and I want every parent to ask their schools – are you getting that tutoring for my child when they need it?”

Cllr Robert Alden, who also the leader of the Birmingham Conservative Party, wanted the once Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment to see first-hand the impact of the mosque’s outreach work and local support programmes.

Alden explained: “I want to thank the mosque for all they’ve done during the Covid pandemic, supporting the local community.

“They’ve done a brilliant role here, making sure the community was looked after during one of the worst events in our lifetime.”

Nadhim Zahawi MP added: “I know from what I’ve been hearing today that it was this congregation here, this leadership who made a real difference to people’s lives and the wider community.”

But education was a clear conversation point throughout the visit, a subject “close to my heart” for Mr Zahawi, with Cllr Alden emphasising the importance “everyone gets that chance to get on in life.”

Robert Alden added: “That’s what we’ve seen from the government, they’ve invested over 8 million, just in the last year, in pupil premium funding locally. We need to make sure that no one is left behind as we recover (from the pandemic).

“I know from my own experiences as a school governor locally, just how important it is that you have that family atmosphere in a school, that community feel.

“That’s what we very much do where I’m a governor, and that’s how I’d almost want to be as a Member of Parliament – making sure that we as a community take all the children with us, to give them the best education possible.”

While praising the British education that he had received as an 11 year old immigrant “who couldn’t speak a word of English”, the Education Secretary warned: “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be complacent, we should improve.

“That’s what Bobby (Robert Alden) is going to do, to help deliver that, if people elect him as their Member of Parliament.”

Erdington has a diverse community, and its new Member of Parliament will need to be a strong voice in Westminster for people from a range of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.

When asked about issues of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, specifically Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani’s recent resignation, the Education Secretary said:

“There is no room for islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

“There are, sadly, in society, incidents of racism and Islamophobia. I suffered from it when I was a kid at school. But we’ve got to make sure that wherever it is, we stamp it out.”

Cllr Robert Alden echoed his message: “There is no place whatsoever, for Islamophobia, both in the Conservative Party and wider society as a whole.

“What I’ve tried to do as a local councillor for the past 16 years is really reach out to all communities, to be able to support them, to make sure they have a voice and to get them the help that they need.”

Addressing both the issues of education and community cohesion, Imam Ghulam Rasool added: “I think if you look at the moment faith is very vibrant, so I think an agreed syllabus for young people should be in place, plus in those places where they aren’t providing GCSE RE, they should be inviting faith leaders.

“We need to build a sense of cohesion and get the community understanding to build tolerance and to break down any kind of intolerance.”

Erdington will elect its next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March.

The 12 candidates contesting the Birmingham Erdington seat are: Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Lee Dargue (Liberal Democrats), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green), Thomas O’Rouke (Independent), Mel Mbondiah (Christian People’s Alliance), Clifton Holmes (Independent), David Laurence Bishop (Militant Bus-Pass Elvis Party), The Good Knight Sir NosDa (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party).

For more on Cllr Robert Alden and the Erdington Conservatives visit www.erdingtonconservatives.org.uk

ELECTION NEWS: “I’ll be fighting for community policing,” declares Labour by-election candidate Paulette Hamilton

By Erdington Local election news team

Paulette Hamilton, the Labour Party candidate in the upcoming Erdington by-election and current local councillor for Holyhead, has declared: “I’ll be fighting for community policing.”

During a recent visit of local youth outreach and support services with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, the MP hopeful told Erdington Local:

“I would be fighting to go back to neighbourhood policing – the police knew the young people, they knew the families, they knew what was going on, and they worked with the partners. All of that has died in the last ten years.

“What is now happening is everything is frontline services, and they’ve (Conservative government) forgotten the soft work that was going on during the last Labour government which helped to actually alleviate some of the difficulties we are now having.

“For me, as a local MP, the thing I’ll be fighting for is community policing, community policing, community policing… because that’s what we need right now”

Having spent the morning visiting the YMCA in Sutton Coldfield and local hotspots in Kingstanding, talking with social workers and those on the ground supporting young people across the constituency, Paulette Hamilton was also keen to highlight the work undertaken by young carers – many of whom provide essential support for their own families.

She added: “I do think we need to do more for young carers, especially as they start to go to school – because many of our young carers, before they actually get to school, they’re doing a day’s work.

“Sometimes they go to school, and I’m not saying all of them, but they could be hungry, they’ve not spoken to anyone, they’ve not had time to do their homework. They’ve just not had the support they need.

“I have dealt with young people for many years; we cannot do things for them, without them.

“I think the strong message is a large number of young people out there, including areas like this (Kingstanding), they are suffering. What I believe needs to happen is we start to listen more, and to act on what they are saying.”

Joining Cllr Hamilton on the constituency visit, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper added:

“Theses youth workers, who’ve been doing a brilliant job, are so overstretched and those youth services have been massively cut back over the last few years – just at a time when they are needed the most. And that is letting our young people down.

“That has an impact on young people’s mental health, it also has an impact on their education, and on things like anti-social behaviour.

“They (the youth workers) told us too about seeing young people being drawn into the gangs and into criminal exploitation at a much younger age. That’s why things like youth services and community policing are so important.”

Police presence and response times are a growing concern across Erdington, with many local residents and businesses calling out for more bobbies on the beat.

Since 2010, the West Midlands has seen £175m stripped from the region’s policing budget, resulting in over 2000 less officers in post – including 25% of those in active service and over 50% allocated to community policing.

Shoplifting and anti-social behaviour on Erdington High Street have become all too prevalent, as trouble makers and thieves know any call out is unlikely to result in uniformed offers attending the scene.

Over the last few years, areas such as Kingstanding especially have seen a frightening rise in violent crime, including knife and gun crime between young people and gangs.

Last May, the 14 year old schoolboy Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed and died on Chester Road, once again highlighting the dangers for children on the streets of Erdington and across the city.

Standing in the heart of Kingstanding, Paulette Hamilton explained:

“In areas like this (Kingstanding) we see the signs, we see what’s happening, but sometimes we fail to act early enough.

“For me, it’s how we’re offering support to schools to help them identify some of the issues that then go onto the street, how are we supporting families before it gets to crisis point.

“I’d like to see more support services, like YMCA, where they can pick things up far earlier – and it means then we don’t get some of the tragedies like we did last year.”

Whilst policing budgets are currently set by the Conservative government, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper was keen to throw the support of the Shadow Cabinet behind the Labour candidate for Erdington MP.

She added: “As a local mum and a local nurse, Paulette really gets it and understands the need to support our young people.

“I think Paulette will be a great champion because she is so rooted in the community, with her family, and she will be a strong voice.

“She understands some of the pressures young people face and strong champion for community policing in this area.

“I think Paulette will be a strong voice for the whole community, for all the issues raised on the doorstep (when out campaigning) whether that’s the issues about HMOs or support for young people… I just think she’ll be brilliant.”

Erdington will elect its next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March.

The 12 candidates contesting the Birmingham Erdington seat are: Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Lee Dargue (Liberal Democrats), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green), Thomas O’Rouke (Independent), Mel Mbondiah (Christian People’s Alliance), Clifton Holmes (Independent), David Laurence Bishop (Militant Bus-Pass Elvis Party), The Good Knight Sir NosDa (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party).

For more on Paulette Hamilton visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/councillors/49/paulette_hamilton

ELECTION NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Erdington by-election set to “liven up” by order of Peaky Blinder Thomas O’Rourke

By Erdington Local election news team

The Erdington by-election is about to “liven up” by order of the Peaky Blinders.

Mirroring the last series of the popular TV show, Peaky Blinders, Thomas O’Rourke, part owner of The Peaky Blinder pub in Dale End, is standing for Parliament – entering the upcoming by-election to become Erdington’s next voice in the House.

Raised and still living in Erdington, Mr O’Rourke has thrown his flat cap into the ring “to liven up the by-election”.

He told: “So, as life-imitates-art-which-imitates-life I’ve decided to give what the rest of the world expects from Birmingham – a Peaky Blinder candidate.”

Mr O’Rourke opened The Peaky Blinder seven years ago, before the BBC series became the international cultural phenomenon it is today. There are now Peaky Blinder themed pubs in Dudley, Southport, and Liverpool, with global TV giant Netflix securing the rights to broadcast the show in the United States and across the world.

Mr O’Rourke tried to buy the original Garrison pub eight years ago before it was turned into an HMO – an ironic twist of fate, as exempt accommodation and rogue HMO landlords are set to be fiercely fought campaign topics on the Erdington by-election hustings.

With The Peaky Blinder and the rest of Dale End being earmarked for demolition, Mr O’Rourke plans to open a new Garrison in the city centre to give Peaky Blinder fans a place to take selfies and learn more about the gang whilst enjoying a drink.

He said: “We welcome people from across the world to The Peaky Blinder and our pub has to be the most photographed building in Brum.”

But thankfully the only razor Mr O’Rourke will be using in his campaign is sharp wit.

He said: “I will give people what they want, slow motion videos of Peaky Blinders turning up to hustings mob-handed to a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack.

“People are sick to death of politicians right about now, we all stuck by the rules they created as they partied and laughed at us.

“The whole system is rotten, why would a vote for me be wasted, this country has great tradition of protest votes, and if anywhere is going to elect an MP called Tommy with a Peaky Blinder link then it’s going to be Birmingham.”

He added: “I will say with a smile on my face when I make my maiden Westminster speech – I am here by order of the Peaky Blinders!”

Mr O’Rourke, a 38-year-old father of one, is keeping tight-lipped about his campaign – but did reveal it took him less than an hour to get the ten nominations from voters in Erdington to qualify as a candidate just before the deadline today.

He said: “If people want an idea what I am going to get up to during this by-election then I suggest they watch every series of Peaky Blinders on iPlayer.

“Which probably is the most transparent thing any candidate says in this whole election.”

Peaky Blinders is set to return to our TV screens for the sixth and final series in February.

But in the run up to polling day on Thursday, 3 March, in Erdington the drama will centred around Tommy O’Rouke’s campaign to become the constituency’s next representative in Westminster.

The 12 candidates contesting the Birmingham Erdington seat are: Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Lee Dargue (Liberal Democrats), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green), Thomas O’Rouke (Independent), Mel Mbondiah (Christian People’s Alliance), Clifton Holmes (Independent), David Laurence Bishop (Militant Bus-Pass Elvis Party), The Good Knight Sir NosDa (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party).

To join Tommy O’Rouke’s campaign to become Erdington’s next Member of Parliament email ErdingtonTom@gmail.com

ELECTION NEWS: Meet the 12 candidates fighting it out to become Erdington’s next Member of Parliament

By Erdington Local election news team

The deadline for any candidate wanting to contest the Erdington seat in the upcoming by-election has now passed, with 12 people officially set to contest the seat on Thursday, 3 March.

First to announce their candidacy was Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Holyhead).

Cllr Hamilton was selected by local Labour Party members via an online vote on Wednesday, 26 January – beating her party rival, Ashley Bertie, by a considerable margin.

Already attracting support from Labour frontbenchers, Cllr Hamilton has so far been joined on the campaign trail by Deputy Labour Leader Angela Raynor – with more big names from the shadow cabinet rumoured to be landing in Erdington soon.

Running for Erdington’s Member of Parliament for the fifth time, local lad Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington) will be back on the MP campaign trail – hoping to put a Conservative in the Erdington seat for the first time since 1945.

Gaining public support from West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Conservative big hitters such as Party Co-Chair Oliver Dowden, Robert Alden’s campaign could get a boost from the fact he is a well know local resident involved in many Erdington based initiives and campaigns.

It could also benefit from Cllr Alden’s direct link to the current government, which could see recently failed regeneration bids – such as the Future High Street and Levelling Up fund applicatons – brought back to the table. Although the ongoing issues around Mr Johnson’s premiership could affect public opinion.

The once MP for Coventry South East, Dave Nellist, will be running as the candidate for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Mr Nellist is expected to campaign against Government cuts, austerity measures, and to champion worker’s rights.

Since his announcement, Mr Nellist has already seen a significant response via social media and amongst Erdington Local readers, many of whom have been affected by the announced closure of the GKN Chester Road factory and continuing troubles at JLR Castle Bromwich.

Lee Dargue will be contesting the Erdington seat for the Liberal Democrats, having preciously run for Member of Parliament for Ladywood in the last two general elections.

Siobhan Harper-Nunes will be representing The Green Party – a Birmingham businesswoman and founder of Shakti Women, with an MSc in Urban Regeneration and 20 years professional experience in the city’s third sector.

Whilst local Erdington postman Jack Brookes will be standing for Reform UK, the modern day face of the Brexit Party following the UK’s departure from the European Union last year.

Mr Bookes will be running on a “secure borders” and “cheaper energy” platform, although campaign material being distributed by Reform UK has taken a hard stance on refugees seeking asylum in the UK – citing “the countless boats illegal migrants crossing the channel every day”.

Standing as the first independent to declare their intention for the Erdington seat is Michael Lutwyche – a Pitts Farm Estate resident and founder of the Justice-4-the-21 Birmingham pub bombings campaign.

The Christian People’s Alliance (CRA) will be presenting Mel Mbondiah as their candidate, a Walsall based pastor and longstanding social worker with experience in healthcare across the West Midlands.

Supporting an anti-abortion agenda and the declassification of cannabis, the CRA have never successfully elected a Member of Parliament – but have been previously successful in local government elections, placing representaives in Newham London Borough Council, and Aston-cum-Aughton .

Also standing in the Birmingham Erdington by-election will be Thomas Peter O’Rourke (Independent), Clifton Holmes (Independent), David Laurence Bishop (Militant Bus-Pass Elvis Party), and The Good Knight Sir NosDa (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party).

Polling for the Birmingham Erdington by-election is scheduled for Thursday, 3 March.

ELECTION NEWS: Cllr Robert Alden officially launches campaign to become Erdington’s next Member of Parliament and “a strong voice in Westminster”

By Erdington Local election news team

Local lad Cllr Robert Alden has officially launched his campaign to be the next MP for Erdington, hoping to be “a strong voice in Westminster” and to “stand up to” the Local Authority over issues affecting the constituency.

An Orchard Road resident, Robert Alden is already the elected representative of the Erdington ward, a position held alongside Cllr Gareth Moore, as well being the leader of Birmingham’s Conservatives.

Last weekend, Robert Alden was joined by local activists, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, and a number of the region’s MPs as they campaigned across the constituency – marking the official launch of his bid to become Erdington’s next Member of Parliament.

Robert Alden has contested the Erdington seat for the past four General Elections – narrowing the gap between Conservatives and Labour each polling day, and bringing his party the closest they’ve come to winning the constituency in 30 years.

If elected, he would become the first Conservative MP to represent Erdington since 1945.

In his role as local councillor and opposition leader, Robert Alden has worked with local residents on issues from Council Tax to housing repairs, street repairs and cleaner streets, as well as challenging the local authority around the rise in exempt accommodation in Erdington.

He has also supported resident groups and community events, in campaigns to save green spaces, local police stations, and health care centres – and sits as a local school governor and vice chairman of the Erdington Business Improvement District.

Stepping across the ward boundaries to Stockland Green, Cllr Alden has also started addressing some of the issues facing local residents and businesses in and around Slade Road – mirroring the work being delivered in the area by the Safer Streets project.

Robert, who lives in Erdington with his family and has been a local councillor in the area for 16 years, set out his plan to build on his strong record of local action and represent Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale in Westminster.

Robert told: “My long-term plan is about improving life for people in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale by providing high-quality, stable jobs and securing new investment in our high streets.”

“We need an MP that will protect the future of our automotive industry, like Jaguar-Land Rover,  work to secure new employment opportunities onto the GKN site, and attract new businesses and secure opportunities for young people.

“As a councillor for sixteen years, I’ve had to fight Birmingham Labour every day to secure local investment – they have let Erdington down for years and we need a strong local MP that will stand up to them.

“I have worked closely with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to get things done like securing a National Express fare freeze and working with Short Heath Fields Trust to stop the Labour run Council from building on Short Heath Playing Fields.

“Right now, I’m working with Andy Street to make the new ‘gigafactory’ happen; producing batteries for electric vehicles and creating thousands of good local jobs.

“And we need a local champion who will work with ministers to secure investment in our high streets.  My plan is to work to ensure our communities get a fair share of the £76 million invested by the government in high streets across the West Midlands.

“With a strong voice in Westminster we can make our high streets better and safer. We can work to regenerate Erdington baths as a job-creating centre, funnel new investment into Kingstanding Circle and attract new businesses, restaurants and jobs.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street is backing Robert Alden’s bid for Parliament.

“I’ve worked with Robert Alden for years, so I’ve seen his dedication up close and he is totally devoted to getting things done,” Andy Street said.

“Robert has an unrivalled record of local action and the skills to be an excellent MP. He has my support at this by-election and I encourage residents to give him theirs.”

Erdington will vote for its next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March. The deadline for political party and independent candidates to declare their intention to stand is 4pm on Tuesday, 8 February.

At the time of writing, the following candidates will be contesting the Erdington seat: Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green).

For more on Cllr Robert Alden and the Erdington Conservatives visit www.erdingtonconservatives.org.uk

ELECTION NEWS: Green Party announce Siobhan Harper-Nunes as Erdington by-election candidate

By Erdington Local election news team

The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) has announced Siobhan Harper-Nunes as their candidate for the Erdington by-election.

The Birmingham businesswoman joins a growing number of candidates in contesting the seat left vacant by the recent death of Jack Dromey MP, with polling day set for Thursday, 3 March.

With its origins in the PEOPLE Party and subsequent Green Party, The Green Party of England and Wales was formed in 1990 to champion ecological and environmental issues in the political arena.

If elected Ms Harper-Nunes would join GPEW’s only current MP in Parliament – Caroline Lucas, who represents Brighton and Hove.

Ms Harper-Nunes is the founder and current head of Shakti Women, a female support and development organisation established in 2006 to ‘provide a space for women and girls to find community and re-focus on their own needs.’

Graduating from University of Birmingham with a Master of Science in Urban Regeneration, she has worked throughout the third sector in Birmingham over the last twenty years – as well as being manager of an external funding unit for Birmingham City Council between 2004 and 2006, with a focus on ‘attracting funds into Birmingham’s communities.’

Following her announcement as Green Party candidate, Ms Harper-Nunes said: “My entire career has been about supporting communities of space and place to flourish.

“My offer is simple, I will put the needs of Erdington residents first and work tirelessly to get things done.

“I know the power of one voice, but when we work together, amazing things happen.”

She added: “I joined The Green Party because it epitomises my ideals and my values. It’s time for change. We all deserve so much better.”

Ms Harper-Nunes outlined her approach to life and politics on her Linked-in profile.

She said: “I believe we author our own lives. And my dream is to have a wonderful life; a loving family, a beautiful home, travel, and a successful business doing what I love to do.

“So, I guess you could say I’m successful as that’s exactly what I have. My biggest passion in life is to seek and find miracles in the everyday.”

She added: “My mission is supporting women to be better and to take their rightful place as leaders, bosses and miracle makers.

“When I’m not writing or delivering kick-ass training, I’m supporting others with Business and Strategic Planning, Bid Writing, Mentoring, Marketing and Research.”

A spokesman for The Green Party said: “For the past year Siobhan has been volunteering in Erdington, listening to residents, getting things fixed, litter-picking and during lockdown, delivering hot food to the elderly.

“Siobhan is a “can do” activist. That’s why the party has nominated her as candidate for Erdington.”

Erdington will vote for its next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March. The deadline for political party and independent candidates announcing their intention to stand is 4pm on Tuesday, 8 February.

At the time of writing, the following candidates will be contesting the Erdington seat: Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green).

For more on The Green Party of England and Wales visit www.vote.greenparty.org.uk

ELECTION NEWS: Jack Brookes to stand as Reform UK candidate in Erdington by-election

By Erdington Local election news team

Reform UK has entered the Erdington by-election, picking local postman Jack Brookes as its candidate.

The former Brexit Party, which changed to Reform UK following the UK leaving the European Union  in Jan 2021, is contesting the Erdington seat on a “secure borders” and “cheaper energy” platform.

Reform UK further stated: “Jack (Brookes) is deeply concerned about the current crises facing our country, especially the extreme rise in the cost of living and continuing illegal crossings in the Channel.

“He will be offering the voters of Erdington a real alternative.”

Following the announcement of his candidacy for Reform UK, Mr Brookes said: “I’m a local postman who works in Erdington. I was born in Birmingham, brought up locally in a single parent, mixed-race family.

“I went to Bishop Vesey’s Grammar school and from there went on to read Economics with Finance at Queen’s University Belfast, graduating in 2020.

He added: “Before becoming a postman, I was a labourer for a few months during the summer and I loved the graft. I look at a task and I ask myself, “What can I do to get this done?”.

“When not working I’m a member of my local Reserve Unit and spend my free time cycling, in the gym and playing sports.

“I believe in personal responsibility, and the ability of an individual to make a difference to their own, and others lives.”

Leaflets for Reform UK have already been handed out in Erdington which ask if residents have “had enough” of unlawful immigration and describes “the countless boats illegal migrants crossing the channel every day”.

The party’s hard stance on refugees would “take the boats back to France” and “refuse to grant asylum” to those who get to the UK via the channel.

Mr Brooks added: “For too long, the people of Erdington have been ignored.

“I am passionate about freedom, and I am deeply concerned about the crises facing our country and community, especially the extreme rise in the cost of living.

“That’s why I’m standing in this by-election.”

Erdington will vote for its next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March. The deadline for political party and independent candidates announcing their intention to stand is 4pm on Tuesday, 8 February.

At the time of writing, the following candidates will be contesting the Erdington seat: Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green).

For more on Jack Brookes visit www.jackbrookes.uk 

For more on Reform UK visit www.reformparty.uk

ELECTION NEWS: Erdington MP hopeful Paulette Hamilton and Labour Deputy Angela Rayner visit Spitfire Services on Castle Vale

Words by Jasmine Khan / Pics by Claire Taylor

On Thursday, 3 February, Cllr Paulette Hamilton was joined by Labour Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, at Spitfire Services on Castle Vale High Street – to find out about the issues facing people on the ground who support their community on a daily basis.

Spitfire Services is a Castle Vale based charity providing ‘a range of welfare information, support and advice services’ – as well as operating local facilities including Castle Pool, Castle Vale Library, The Meeting Place Café, and the Upcycle shop and showroom.

Cllr Hamilton has been recently confirmed as the Labour candidate for the upcoming Birmingham Erdington by-election and remarked on how volunteers and staff at Spitfire Services are “like a big family.”

She told Erdington Local: “What we’ve seen on the (Castle Vale) estate, and in wider Erdington, are the aftereffects of the pandemic. Inequalities have been exacerbated.

“On certain parts of Castle Vale, you live nine years less than you would in Sutton Coldfield. I have got to fight for people locally and what their needs are.”

“The Castle Vale area has felt neglected over the last three years. The issues they (Castle Vale residents) have talked to me about on the door are HMOs and Exempt Housing. Not so much anti-social behaviour, but also waste and fly tipping in the area.

“They’ve seen their shopping bills get bigger and are also talking about gas and electricity and the rise that’s happening there.

“They’re working class and they’re worried about how they’re going to cope.”

Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, who joined Cllr Hamilton on Castle Vale, added: “It’s amazing to see the work of Spitfire Services.

“It’s bittersweet. I’m still grieving the loss of Jack (Dromey), as I’m sure many of the people of Erdington are as well. But to see the community come together in the way that they have, and the legacy of supporting each other, it’s humbling.

“What Jack stood for is looking out for each other…its lovely to see that the community are there for each other when they need it. That, to me, is what the working class are all about.”

A practising nurse for 25 years, Cllr Hamilton was made Mental Health Champion for Birmingham City Council in 2013 and Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care in 2015.

During earlier stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, she returned to nursing to help deliver vaccines to local people.

She added: “I felt it was so important for us to not just talk about it, but do it. That’s why I’m really upset and annoyed with the government.

“In the mist of Covid we saw an enormous amount of people’s mental health effected. (If elected Erdington MP) I would start to challenge and look at (mental health) legislation, and work with other politicians to ensure mental ill-health goes down.”

But some local voters are concerned that another Labour MP might not be able to hold their ground and fight for Erdington’s interests with the wider City Council.

When Cllr. Hamilton was asked whether she would be able to effect genuine change in Erdington, as a Labour MP in conjunction with a Labour Council, she said:

“I’ve lived in Erdington for the past 35 years. I’ve raised my five children here. I’ve worked as a nurse in the local area, in Warren Farm. I’ve been a governor in the local school; I’ve worked with voluntary organisations.

“Because I’m so local and I absolutely understand the needs of the community, I’m best placed, at this moment in time, to represent the community at a national level in Parliament.

“I’ve been a local counsellor for 17 years. With the current council, you have just got to talk and negotiate with them. I believe I’m best placed because I know the services well; I know what the community wants, but I also know how the council provide it.

“So, I am best placed to go in, challenge and work with them (Birmingham City Council) to get change for Erdington.”

Deputy Labour Leader, Angela Rayner, further commented: “I think Paulette will be a massive asset to us (Labour Party), because she has a long history of helping her community. She has worked in the NHS. HMO’s, housing and inequality – those things are her bread and butter, and she comes with a wealth of experience.”

“The Parliamentary Labour Party would learn a lot from Paulette. Not only will she raise things for the people of Edrington. But I’m sure my constituents in Greater Manchester will do well from Paulette being in Parliament.

“I hope the people in Edrington give her a resounding victory.”

Maggie Whitehouse, who volunteers at Upcycle, told Erdington Local: “I’m thrilled with Paulette (running for Erdington MP) because she’s on our wave length and she’ll keep traditions alive.”

Whilst Castle Vale Library Manager, Ian Bingham, added: “Paulette (Hamilton) will be a massive asset to the Erdington constituency and the Labour Party hopefully. She’ll carry on the good work that Jack started.

“Meeting Angela (Rayner), she’s so down to earth. It was humbling to meet a politician that’s in touch with grass roots.”

Erdington will vote for its next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March.

At the time of writing, the current candidates who have declared their intention to contest the seat are Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), and Michael Lutwyche (Independent).

For more on Paulette Hamilton visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/councillors/49/paulette_hamilton

For more on Spitfire Services visit www.spitfireservices.org.uk

ELECTION NEWS: Erdington Councillor Robert Alden to run for MP as official Conservative candidate in March by-election

By Erdington Local election news team

Councillor Robert Alden has been selected by local party members as the Conservative candidate for the Birmingham Erdington by-election – with polling day scheduled for Thursday, 3 March.

Held in Pype Hayes late on Wednesday, 2 February, the selection meeting started with a minute silence in memory of the late Jack Dromey MP, according to a Conservative party source.

The Erdington ward representative, who is also leader of the Birmingham Conservatives, then face a full room of constituents, answering question on issues including Exempt Accommodation, street crime, policing, and anti-social behaviour – before being confirmed as the Conservative candidate.

Robert Alden has contested the seat for the past four General Elections – narrowing the gap between Conservatives and Labour – and is hoping to become the first Conservative MP to represent Erdington since 1945.

In his role as local councillor and opposition leader, Robert has worked with local residents on issues from Council Tax to housing repairs, street repairs and cleaner streets, to tackling inappropriate development and exempt accommodation

He has also supported residents groups and community events, in campaigns to save green spaces, local police stations, and health care centres – and sits as a local school governor and vice chairman of the Erdington Business Improvement District.

Following the selection, Robert Alden said: “I am honoured to again be selected to stand to represent residents of Erdington Constituency.

“Erdington Constituency is an incredible place to live and work and as I have shown over the last 17 years, I am determined to help make it an even better place with our long-term plan for Castle Vale, Erdington and Kingstanding.

“I know how difficult it will be to win here as there has been no Conservative MP for the area for almost 80 years. But over the last 16 years residents have seen first-hand the difference having Conservative Councillors has made and the progress we are making.

“Residents want the best possible local constituency MP, with a proven track record locally, to serve the people of Erdington and Kingstanding and force the Birmingham Labour-led council to do better for the area.

“I know there is hard work to be done, but I cannot wait to get my message out to everyone in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale.

“As a local resident I’ve campaigned for our area continuously for 17 years, including 16 years as an Erdington Councillor, as a school governor and vice-chair of the Business Improvement District.

“Working alongside Mayor Andy Street and the Government to secure the investment we need in our local centres will be at the heart of my campaign.”

West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, who has joined Cllr Alden on several campaign across Erdington, was quick to give the local resident and Conservative candidate his full support.

Mr Street added: “Robert Alden is unquestionably the best possible person to serve the people of Erdington as their next MP.

“He has an unrivalled record of action, service and commitment to the area. He is already working closely with me on key local issues like protecting jobs, regeneration the town centre, major improvements to public transport, protecting green spaces and the character of communities.”

At the time of writing, the candidates who have declared their intention to contest the seat and become the next Member of Parliament for Erdington are Justice-4-the-21 campaigner Michael Lutwyche (independent), Dave Nellist (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), and Paulette Hamilton (Labour).

Registered voters will be selecting the next Erdington Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March.