ELECTION NEWS: Upfront Lib Dem candidate wants Erdington voters “to give the two tired parties a bloody nose in upcoming by-election

By Erdington Local election news team

Lee Dargue, the Liberal Democrat’s candidate in the upcoming Birmingham Erdington Parliamentary by-election, is calling on local voters “to give the two tired parties a bloody nose” and vote for “a positive choice for a new lease of life” on Thursday, 3 March.

Putting his money where his mouth is, and arguably his neck on the line, Mr Dargue is also inviting Erdington residents to the Highcroft Community Centre for a free to attend “no speeches… no scripts” Q&A with the Lib Dem candidate – held from 3pm on Sunday, 27 February.

As the promotional flyer for the Highcroft Community Centre event states: ‘Unrehearsed. Unscripted. You ask, Lee answers.’

Lee Dargue will also be attending the full hustings event later that day, to answers further questions alongside the other MP candidates – also free to attend – from 6pm at the GRS Lions Club, Church Rd, Erdington. Click here for free tickets and information.

Keen to see a change in the often two party race to Parliament, the upfront and outspoken Lib Dem candidate, who previously contested the Ladywood seat in the last two General Elections, told Erdington Local:

“The choice that some are hoping to present is the same, tired blue or red teams, with the same, tired rhetoric. They spend more time fighting each other, than fighting for the people, and this must be challenged.

“Take, for example, the stream of MPs that come in for photoshoots. For a few quick lines of vague statements or rushed policy ideas to catch a headline. Why are they making the election about them?

“Why should it matter if a party leader or minister swoops into the area – it’s not about celebrity visits, this is about the people of Erdington needing an MP to really fight for them.

He added: “Erdington needs a fresh start. Erdington needs an MP who both listens to, and acts upon, the causes of concern of the people.

“I’ll hold the Conservative government to account and challenge the complacent Labour council.

“You don’t need to vote for the least worst option this time – this is your chance to rip up the old script, and vote for a Liberal Democrat MP to fight for you in Erdington.”

Lee Dargue is one of the more experienced MP candidates on the bill for the Erdington Birmingham by-election, having taken the Liberal Democrats into third place behind Labour and Conservatives in the last two General Elections in Ladywood.

Ladywood is arguably one of the safest Labour held constituencies in the city, with a majority of nearly 30,000 votes. But since Lee Dargue has been contesting the seat for the Liberal Democrats, they have been biting at the heals of the other major parties and closing the gap between third and second place.

But Mr Dargue seems unperturbed by a fiercely fought campaign trail, or by the challenges and concerns of local residents in Erdington.

Ahead of his solo Q&A at the Highcroft Community Centre on Sunday, 27 February, he explained:

“You’ll be able to ask me any questions, or raise any issues you’d like. Come vent your anger at being ignored. Give your ideas on what Erdington most needs.

“Most of all, come along and use the opportunity for you to have a voice, and be listened to. I’m making no speeches and will have no scripts – you have the floor, and I will answer to you.”

Mr Dargue was also quick to comment on the backlash to campaign material being circulated around Erdington by the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA), which has left many local residents upset by their stance on abortion, Covid-19, and “gender confused children.”

He added: “I’m appalled at the content of this leaflet. Dangerous disinformation and appalling attacks on women, LGBT+ people, and science, make this leaflet vital to expose what the CPA and candidate’s agenda is for the people of Erdington.

“Making spurious claims about COVID and vaccines costs lives. Making claims of science, whilst showing a lack of scientific knowledge is dangerous. And the attacks on LGBT+ people should be consigned to the rubbish bin of history, especially during LGBT History Month.

“My “unscripted” event at the Highcroft Centre on Sunday 27 February, at 3pm, is open to everyone – that offer is open to Mel Mbondiah too (CPA candidate), who I’d relish debating.

“I wonder if Mel would be bringing a leaflet claiming the earth is flat and we didn’t go to the moon?”

For more on Lee Dargue and the Birmingham Liberal Democrats visit www.birminghamlibdems.org.uk

NEWS: Erdington Labour and Kashmiri community host post-lockdown Eid Fair

Words by Ed King

On Saturday September 4, Erdington Labour and the constituency’s Kashmiri community will be hosting a post-lockdown Eid Fair.

Held at Highcroft Community Centre, Slade Road, Stockland Green, the event is free to attend and will run from 11am to 4pm.

Observers of Islam across the world celebrate two Eid events each year. Eid al-Fitr (or ‘little/sweet Eid’) is a three day festival marking the end of Ramadan in May. Whilst Eid-al-Adha (or ‘big/salty Eid) is a four day festival to celebrate Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah, starting on the 10th day of the last month in the Islamic calendar  which in 2021 would have been July 9 to 13.

This year, due to restrictions from the Covid pandemic, both Eid’s were celebrated within households and ‘bubbles’ – as many religious festivals were curtailed due to the spread of coronavirus.

But the chance to come together as a community, welcoming all faiths and backgrounds, has not been lost – with Erdington Labour and the Kashmiri community working together to host this special Eid Fair event.

Spearheaded by Naziah Rasheed, Erdington Labour’s BAME Officer, the Eid Fair will have a variety of food stalls, local produce, games, and fun activities for children – such as a bouncy castle and a face painting stall.

Naziah Rasheed told Erdington Local: “Since the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in July this year , we decided to organise a belated Eid Fair for the local community in Erdington.

“Although it’s an Eid event, it’s not only for Muslims but for all faiths to celebrate together.

“The aim of the event is to bring all communities together to have a fun day out and also to promote local small and home based businesses, for them to display their products and services.

“We have food stalls from different cultures and cuisines including Moroccan, Afghan, Kashmiri, Indian a,nd East African to name a few.”

The recently appointed Edington Labour BAME officer is also keen to hear from Erdington’s BAME communities, with a recent survey sent out asking ‘to know the issues the BAME communities are facing’ so she can ‘work towards making change locally and nationally.’

An online version of the BAME survey can be found at www.jackdromey.co.uk/erdington-labour-bame-survey

Open to all faiths, backgrounds, and ages, the Eid Fair will be held at Highcroft Community Centre on Slade Road, Stockland Green – running from 11am to 4pm on Saturday September 4.

For more on Highcroft Community Centre visit www.highcroftcommunitycentre.co.uk

For more from Erdington Labour visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonLabourParty

NEWS: Highcroft Community Centre gets cash injection from electricity giant Western Power

Words by Adam Smith

Staff at the former Highcroft Sports and Social Club, which reopened as a community centre last year after being closed for two years, are celebrating after being given a grant to help its resurgence.

Highcroft Community Centre, Slade Road, was forced to close in October, 2017, due to financial problems and then again earlier this year, just months after reopening, due to the pandemic.

However, now the centre is back open, thriving and hosts a variety of groups and outreach community projects in Stockland Green.

Electricity company Western Power Distribution has given the club a £750 community grant to be spent on a new games room which will be available for the Stockland Green community to use.

Pauline Wright runs the bar at the centre and is delighted with the cash injection.

She told Erdington Local: “The grant is fantastic news. I’m Erdington born and bred and was delighted when the club reopened, the place means so much to so many people.

From my experience running the bar at the Highcroft Community Centre and the people who support us are some of the nicest I have met. It’s like one big family and this grant can only bring more happiness to many by enabling the use of the games room.”

Centre manager Maxine McNair also welcomed the grant.

She said: “The funding has been gratefully received. The money is also being used to help upgrade the lighting on the car park and signage, therefore making sure that the building is safe for all that use the centre now and those that will hopefully use it in the future.

Thank you very much Western Power Distribution.”

The centre also boasts a bar, function rooms, a cricket pitch, darts, snooker and a host of other facilities.

Erdington MP Jack Dromey nominated Highcroft Community Centre for the grant from Western Power Distribution and is delighted the club is up and running again.

He said: “Highcroft Community Centre has been at the heart of the local community for many years. It is not only a social hub, but also has excellent sports facilities and plays hosts to many local and charitable organisations.

I have attended countless events at the Community Centre myself over the years.”

Dromey added: “When I heard the centre was experiencing financial difficulties and was forced to close, I felt deeply saddened as it was a huge blow to the local community.

However, I’m delighted that they were eventually able to reopen and once again be an invaluable community and social hub. I’d like to pay tribute to everyone involved with getting Highcroft Community Centre back on its feet, and I hope this grant from Western Power will help them to continue that process.”

Highcroft Sports and Social Club was a firm favourite of Erdingtonians for decades, however, dwindling membership numbers meant the club was not viable, however, now running as a community centre the place is appealing for local people and groups to use its facilities.

Western Power Distribution’s donated the money to the community centre from its In This Together – Community Matters Fund which was set up at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown to support grass root organisations in delivering care to vulnerable people and families.

The fund supported 300 organisations with £500,000 funding and asked MPs to nominate deserving community projects, another £250,000 has now being allocated to good causes across the country.  

Alison Sleightholm, Western Power Distribution’s Resources and External Affairs Director, said: “Highcroft Community Centre is a multi-function community hub offering space for local groups to run activities from wellbeing, recreation, community development including cricket.

The funding will be used as a contribution to refurbishing the games room in the centre which will enable greater usage of this vibrant hub in a challenged ward.”

She added: “Throughout this crisis we have worked tirelessly to support our local communities and keep the energy flowing to our 7.9 million customers.

The crisis is far from over and as we enter the next phase of the UK’s response to the pandemic, we’re delighted that 92 MPs in our regions have nominated deserving causes for up to £1,500 of funding.” 

For more information on Highcroft Community Centre, visit www.highcroftcommunitycentre.co.uk

For more on Western Power Distribution, visit www.westernpower.co.uk