NEWS: Announcement of General Election puts Kingstanding by-election into the political spotlight

Words by Erdington Local election team

The starting gun has been fired in the campaign of the 2024 General Election, putting the upcoming Kingstanding Ward by-election into the spotlight of national politics.

On 22 May, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a rare summer election with polling day on Thursday, 4 July. And unlike the vast majority of UK constituencies, voters in Erdington are being asked to pick their representative to Westminster for the second time in just over two years.

But as the country gears up to choose who represents them in the national corridors of power once again, another by-election has taken on added significance – as voters across the Kingstanding Ward head to the ballot box on 30 May to replace disgraced Conservative Councillor Rick Payne on Birmingham City Council.

Coming so soon after the recent local elections and before the now announced General Election, the up-coming Kingstanding by-election could be seen as a real electoral litmus test – with the results from the North Birmingham ward representing the feelings of voters across the country.

Candidates for the General Election will be given until Friday 07 June to confirm their intention to stand, but those running for local council in Kingstanding have already declared.

Contesting the seat for Labour will be Naz Rasheed, who ran for Kingstanding alongside Des Hughes in 2022 and lost by a narrow margin – coming fourth in the overall count, but only 65 votes behind Rick Payne who came in second.

Naz Rasheed fought a fierce campaign in the 2022 local elections, putting youth services and tackling crime in the area at the top of her agenda.

Also in the running will be Patrick Christopher Lee for the Green Party, who according to a Twitter profile under his name is the Communication Manager for the health focused NGO Impact on Urban Health – based in London.

Standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is Erdington resident and keen HMO activist Kris O’Sullivan, who was a big part of the Dave Nellist parliamentary campaign during the Birmingham Erdington by-election in 2022.

Hoping to repair the damage done by his now disgraced predecessor is Conservative candidate Clifton Walsh – a well known local resident who has previously stood for the Pype Hayes Ward in local council elections, losing out to Labour’s candidates by 92 votes in 2022 and only 16 votes in 2018.

Ahead of his run for the Kingstanding Ward, Mr Welsh launched the ‘Pride in Kingstanding’ campaign, encouraging community litter picking as Birmingham City Council faces cuts to its street cleaning services.

On the ticket for the Workers Party of Britain is Pete Higgins – representing George Galloway’s socialist and socially conservative political party that formed in 2019 and won the Rochdale by-election in 2024 on a strong pro-Palestine agenda.

Being held on Thursday, 30 May, the Kingstanding by-election is somewhat of a poisoned chalice for the main two political parties.

Conservatives do not want voters across the country to be reminded how one of their councillors was caught spewing racism on a secret Twitter account – and Labour do not want a light shone on their party’s very public record of running Birmingham City Council into financial chaos.

But whatever side you support in this game of political football, all the seven candidates standing in the Kingstanding by-election will have a lot more attention on their campaigns than they could ever envisaged – as the country warms up for a General Election on 4 July.

For more on both local and national elections held across the UK, alongside advice on how to register to vote, visit www.electoralcommission.org.uk

NEWS: Erdington’s city councillors announced as local election results declared

Words by Ed King

Voters across Erdington have decided their next council representatives, as the results of the local elections were announced today.

Winning the Castle Vale Ward, Labour’s Ray Goodwin was “blown away” by the support he received from local voters – beating The Green Party’s John Macefield by a narrow 44 votes, but with a confident 233 lead over the Local Conservative candidate Tyrese Romain.

He told Erdington Local: “I’m absolutely blown away; this is absolutely amazing. I did wonder if I should stand, but as many people know it was Jack’s (Dromey, Erdington’s recently deceased MP) last wishes was that I stand, and it was really important that I did. So, in my mind I did it for Jack. And Jack, I won it for you as well.”

The Green Party also picked up many new votes in the Gravelly Hill Ward, where newly standing candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes achieved 363 votes – beating the Local Conservative candidate into second place by 35 votes.

Although not enough to take the ward from Labour’s Mick Brown, who has traditionally held a strong lead in Gravelly Hill, The Green Party’s endorsement from local voters shows a significant move away from previous local election – with Labour losing over 400 votes from the 2018 results.

Green party candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes told: “Of course, I am disappointed but really not surprised.

“I have loved every minute of the Gravelly Hill campaign, meeting people, getting to grips with local issues and of course solving problems.

“We have gained a lot of support and the Green Party has made a footprint across the city. At local elections people must vote for the candidate they believe in and it’s clear, their belief is still unanimously with the sitting councillor.

“My work as a Green Party advocate has only just begun and I will still be around pushing forward on green issues.”

Labour continued to clean up across the constituency, with both candidates in Stockland Green – Jane Jones and Amar Khan – successfully retaining the ward for the party, although losing hundreds of votes from the 2018 elections.

Local Conservatives’ new Stockland Green candidate, Estelle Murphy – who moved into politics after successfully campaigning to save Short Heath Playing Fields – was voted in third, and the only front runner candidate to improve on her counterpart’s performance in the 2018 elections.

She told: “This has been a brilliant learning curve as a first innings and I’m looking forward to what I can achieve in the next four years.”

Elsewhere across the constituency, Perry Common was won by Labour’s Jilly Bermingham, who beat the Conservative candidate Rachael Okello with a 204 vote lead.

Whilst Pype Hayes was won by Labour’s Basharat Mahmood, beating Local Conservative Clifton Welch by 91 votes – mirroring the closely fought contest in the 2018 local elections.

Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore retained the Erdington Ward with a confident majority, the largest in the constituency, collectively beating Labour’s Suriyah Bi and Basharat Mahmood by 1189 votes.

Speaking to Erdington Local after the announcement, Cllr Alden said: “It’s a huge honour to represent the people of Erdington, something I’ve been delighted to do for almost 20 years.

“Erdington’s an incredible place and we’ll keep doing all we can to represent the people of Erdington.”

Cllr Gareth Moore added: “The responses, over the last few weeks on the campaign trail, have been really positive and people are grateful for the work Robert (Alden) and I have been doing in Erdington and it’s great to see that reflected in the result today.”

But the shock of the day came in Kingstanding, as Labour and Local Conservatives split the ward with one candidate winning for each party – Rick Payne taking 1286 votes for the Local Conservatives, and Des Hughes receiving 1350 for Labour.

Whilst both candidates were saddened their running mates would not be join them in local office, each were firm that they would work together for the good of Kingstanding.

Local Conservative Rick Payne told: “I just want to thank all the people of Kingstanding who have put their trust in me to represent them as a councillor.

“And I will work with who I have to work with to get the best for Kingstanding.”

Labour’s Des Hughes, who was elected Kingstanding councillor in 2015 but lost the ward the following year, added: “I’m delighted that the electors in Kingstanding have given me the opportunity to represent them again, which I look forward to doing with enthusiasm and vigour.

“I do regret that my college, Naz Rasheed, isn’t able to join me. But ultimately, we’ve (Rick Payne, Local Conservatives) got our political differences, but the objective is to serve the residents of Kingstanding and that’s what counts.”

NEWS: Erdington’s Kashmiri community serve up 150 hot meals from local foodbank

Words by Adam Smith / Pics & video by Simon Lefevre

On Thursday 1 July, homeless people and Erdington residents living on the breadline were given much needed hot meals by the local Kashmiri community.

The giveaway was the first community event organised by Erdington Labour Party’s new BAME officer Naz Rasheed.

Local people in need of a good hearty hot meal flocked to Six Ways Baptist Church to receive chicken and rice, cake and essentials – coinciding with the longstanding Erdington Food Bank, which opens its doors every Thursday between noon and 2pm.

Naz Rasheed told Erdington Local: “We gave away 150 meals today and plan to do the same every month. I’m part of Erdington’s Kashmiri community and we wanted to share what we do so well – creating great food – with those who need it the most.

“A lot of people helped to ensure this was a success, including my husband, and through the Labour Party we want to bring people together in our community.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey helped distribute the meals and spoke at length with several people who explained why they were in need of emergency provisions.

He said: “It is a sad commentary on 21st Century Britain that a country like ours needs a foodbank like this.

“It was a very moving experience watching people come and receive this food, one person, who I cannot forget, told me it will be their first hot meal in three weeks. There are a lot of people who are going hungry out there.

“We had people who were homeless who really needed help and they were met with loving admiration by the Kashmiri community who I would like to pay tribute to for such an outstanding display of generosity.”

Erdington Kashmiri Labour Party member Ansar Ali Khan helped package the meals for the foodbank.

He said: “We wanted to make a small difference, and if we can do this regularly then we know we are helping those who need help the most in Erdington.”

Between April 2020 and March 2121 Erdington Foodbank handed out 22,066 ‘three day emergency’ food parcels to local residents, all made and distributed from kitchens at Six Ways Baptist Church and George Road Church (which is open Tuesdays noon until 2pm).

Reverend Gerard Goshawk, who runs Erdington Foodbank on behalf of The Trussell Trust, said: “It was great to see the people who use our foodbank being offered hot meals by the Kashmiri community.

“We are here every week and there is a real need for what we provide.”

Jack Dromey MP and Naz Rasheed at Erdington Foodbank 01.06.21

For more on Erdington Foodbank, including how to both donate and receive aid, visit www.erdington.foodbank.org.uk