By Erdington Local election news team
With 100 days to go until the local elections on 5 May, Conservative Party big hitters have been celebrating Erdington’s “enormous potential” – with one leading cabinet minister calling for an “improved funding pitch” to secure millions for the High Street.
“Seeing Erdington first-hand showed the enormous potential of this town centre – there is a huge range of shops with relatively few empty units, and some great independent traders generating footfall.
“So, there is a real opportunity here to build on what has been achieved by local businesses and the BID and secure a better future for Erdington.
“I was struck by the passion and vision that Cllr. Robert Alden has for the centre and there is no doubt he is a strong advocate for Erdington and attracting the investment that is needed.
“The Government is committed to Levelling Up communities like Erdington, and I look forward to an improved funding pitch being submitted, which could help unlock the High Street’s potential.”
Meeting with local residents, campaigners, law enforcement, and the local business community, the visit was arranged to help understand the needs and concerns of people who live and work in Erdington, ahead of the upcoming local elections.
Erdington is also facing a by-election where local voters will decide the next constituency Member of Parliament, following the sudden death of Jack Dromey MP on Friday, 7 January.
Cllr. Robert Alden, who represents the Erdington Ward along with Cllr. Gareth Moore, is also a local resident and has been involved in many constituency campaigns – including recent applications for regeneration money from the Government led Future High Street and Levelling Up funds.
Whilst both bids were initially rejected, due to reasons that span the political divide, there is still hope a renewed application for the Levelling Up Fund could ultimately be accepted – which, if successful, could see millions invested into Erdington High Street.
Cllr. Alden added: “I was pleased to showcase Erdington’s potential to Oliver, a leading member of the Government. We have all been disappointed that the previous Council bids have not had everything we need in them, but we know what needs to be addressed.
“We have already met with the Council and the Department and are fighting to get the changes needed to successfully reapply in the next round.
“Regenerating Erdington will ensure that it has a secure future as a place that local people actively choose to want to come and spend their time.
Mirroring the hopes and aspirations of the Erdington councillor, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street added:
“I am very struck by the strength of community support, including from organisations like Witton Lodge Community Association, the BID, and Cllrs. Robert Alden and Gareth Moore for regenerating Erdington.
“I’m committed to continuing to work with the local team in securing investment into Erdington.”
But on the High Street itself, there are people who see day after day the problems facing local shoppers and businesses. Erdington Street Warden John Lynch, who met with Oliver Dowden during his visit, told Erdington Local:
“There will always be a problem with shop lifters, and we do need to target the shop lifters – at the moment the police don’t often come out for shoplifters unless they’re violent and aggressive. Even then it’s a struggle.
“I would like to see more police presence on the High Street.”
Another local resident, who didn’t wish to be named, added: “If we’re not talking about shop lifting, then personally I think it’s the littering and dog fouling – people need to take more pride (in the area) – the High Street is for everybody to enjoy.”
But as sun follows rain, there was one positive note from Magdolena Gal – when asked what the biggest problem facing the thoroughfare was, she told: “I have no problem, I think the High Street is good.”