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.”

ELECTION NEWS: “…the work starts now,” Paulette Hamilton wins Birmingham Erdington by-election for Labour

By Erdington Local election news team

After weeks of a fiercely fought campaign trail, with twelve MP hopefuls from mainstream parties and independents in the running, Labour’s candiate Paulette Hamilton has been voted in as Erdington’s next Member of Parliament.

Winning with 9,413 votes, a majority of 3266, the Holyhead councillor will now be on her way to Westminster as Erdington’s next voice in the House.

Despite a significantly low turnout, where only 27 % of registered voters made their way to a polling station earlier in the day, Birmingham Erdington remains a Labour seat – one the pary have held since 1945.

“Thank you to every single person who used their vote to vote for me,” Hamilton told the crowd at Erdington Academy, where ballot papers had been counted since before 11pm on Thursday night.

She continued: “I am truly honoured and humbled to be elected as the Member of Parliament, I will not take your vote for granted.

“I have met many of you and I have heard what you have to say and I commit to you now, I will work for you – for Erdington, for Castle Vale, and for Kingstanding. I have made promises to you that I intend to keep and I cannot wait to get started.

“I will be your voice in Westminster and challenge this government to get a better deal for Erdington.

“It’s what we deserve, it’s what you deserve, and the work starts now to get it done.

Having been focused on the quickly called by-election, with the Labour Party whip’s office announcing the early March date only hours after Jack Dromey’s funeral – Erdington’s previous MP who died on 7 January – Paulette Hamilton is hoping to take some time to mourn for her father, who also died tragically as her campaign trail began.

But the long serving councillor and freshly appointed MP is already making plans to serve her new constituency, as she assumes her new role as political champion for Erdington, Castle Vale, and Kingstanding.

She added: “We have got some many things that residents have asked us to do, and my plan is, as soon as possible, to get stated with that.

“Some of the things that are at the top of my list are relating to the local (Erdington) high street, crime and anti social behaviour, Short Heath Playing Fields – which people feel passionately about – and HMOs and exempt accommodation, working with other MPs to ensure we tighten the legislation in those areas.

“I’ve had a lot of people supporting, helping, and ensuring that I can be the best MP that I can be. And I believe after 18 years of being a very good councillor, I believe this is my time to step up and show – not just the constituency, but the country – what Paulette Hamilton can do.”

Coming in second place, Robert Alden secured 6147 for the Conservatives, once again narrowing the gap between the two main parties fighting over the Birmingham Erdington seat.

Having battled it out against Jack Dromey over the past four General Elections, many thought Alden might win the longstanding Labour seat in this by-election – as concerns about the Labour run Local Authority continue to grow across the constituency.

“We’ll be taking the momentum from this election into the local elections in May,” said Alden, after the results were announced, “and it was really interesting speaking to residents during this election because they had Labour canvassers on the door saying: ‘I know you’re angry with the Labour Council, but just hold your nose and vote Labour.’

“It’s clear that Birmingham Labour has a real problem… the way they’ve treated people in the city, the way they’ve left our streets unclean, the way they’ve left the roads unfixed. And we’ll be taking that fight to them in the May elections, to challenge Birmingham Labour and hold them to account.”

He added: “What you’re seeing is a seat that’s been a Labour seat for the last 85 years and the fact that the majority is so small here today is really a damning indictment of where the Labour Party is nationally.

“A result like you’re seeing tonight is showing that the Conservative Party is very much where it was in 2019 and doing a good job in representing the country. And locally we’ll continue doing all we can to help stand up for the local area.

Despite a clear lead between the front running two parties and others on the ballot, Dave Nellist secured third place for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) with 360 votes.

Fourth place went to Jack Brookes with 293 votes for Reform UK, narrowly beating the 236 votes won by Siobhan Harper-Nunes for the Green Party.

Lee Dargue secured 173 votes for the Liberal Democrats, whilst Michael Ludwytche was the highest ranking independent candidate with 109 votes.

Results for the remaining candidates, all securing under 100 votes each, were: Mel Mbondiah (79, Christian Peoples Alliance), Thomas O’Rourke (76, Independent), The Good Knight Sir NosDa (49, Monster Raving Loony Party), Clifton Holmes (14, Independent), and Dave Bishop (8, Church of the Militant Elvis).

But whilst celebration, commiseration, and cardboard boxes will be prominent in by-election campaign offices across Erdington tonight, announcements for candidates standing in the 5 May Local Elections are expected next week.

A General Election will soon follow, to be held in either 2023 or 2024, where the Birmingham Erdington seat will be contested again.

Paulette Hamilton (Labour) voted in as Erdington’s next Member of Paliament

ELECTION NEWS: MP hopefuls and party representatives battle it out at the only all candidate Erdington by-election hustings

By Erdington Local election news team

On Sunday, 27 February, candidates running in the Birmingham Erdington by-election got the chance to battle it out on the first election hustings – held at the GRS Lions Club, Church Road, Erdington.

Sitting in front of a packed house, with all 120 seats filled with politically engaged locals, nine of the twelve MP hopefuls and party representatives answered questions asked by Erdington residents and registered voters.

Organised by Erdington Local and Churches Together, the event was the only Erdington by-election hustings to invite all candidates to attend, with others refusing to include independent or ‘fringe’ candidates.

The Erdington Local and Churches Together hustings were chaired by Rev. Emma Sykes from St. Barnabas Church and Ed King, editor of Erdington Local.

All but the Monster Raving Loony Party and the Militant Bus Pass Elvis Party had representation, although stand ins were sent by both the Labour Party and the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA). Tommy O’Rouke (The Peaky Blinders / Independent) withdrew last minute due to food poisoning.

Labour candidate Paulette Hamilton was unable to attend due to family arrangements, needing that Sunday to help organise her father’s funeral – who died unexpectedly at the start of her campaign. Preet Gill MP (Labour, Edgbaston) stood in for Paulette Hamilton, with the Labour Party confirming her availability on Friday, 25 February.

The CPA’s candidate, Mel Mbondiah, is a pastor in Walsall and “Sunday is a difficult day for her”, according to her campaign agent and CPA leader, Sid Corlde – despite having told Erdington Local during their campaigning on Erdington High Street the day before the party were worried about questions over LGBT issues.

Originally planned for Saturday, 26 February, the date was moved to the Sunday as no suitable venue was available on the day before, with many candidates and others involved in the event also unable to make the Saturday.

The first to formally decline, there had been no response from the Labour Party about either date as other candidates confirmed Sunday as the preferred option. Whilst the CPA showed an initial interest in both dates, the party pulled their candidate at 10:30pm the day before the hustings.

Neither the Labour Party nor the CPA requested a different day or time in order for their candidate to attend, with both parties opting to send a party representative as a stand in.

After a brief introduction, where the CPA stand in, Simon Brookes, awkwardly opened by admitting his own party’s candidate should have attended the hustings herself, the candidates and representatives took questions from selected local community groups and institutions.

Co-founder of the Erdington Community Volunteers, Jo Bull, wanted those hoping to become Erdington’s next Member of Parliament to explain how they would increase mental health provision and the availability of immediate care.

Finding herself “very much out of my comfort zone” standing in a room full of people and political candidates, Jo’s question garnered a supportive round of applause from the room and a volley of answers from the people on stage – with Lee Dargue (Lib Dems) recalling his own struggles with depression and highlighting the absurdity of metal health support ‘by appointment only’.

The Crisis Café at the Beechcroft Centre on Slade Road, a well-known and used service for local residents struggling with mental health issues, will still only see people pre-arranged and during limited opening hours.

Next to stand up was Stephen Hughes, Chair of Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) whose two year fiercely fought battle against Birmingham City Council resulted in a suspension of plans to build an estate on the Perry Common/Stockland Green parkland.

Following a question to all candidates about their commitment to “save and protect green spaces” such as Short Heath Playing Fields, Mr Hughes wanted clarification from Ms Gill – standing in for Paulette Hamilton – what “credence” her answers had on behalf of the absentee Labour candidate.

Determined to get this point nailed down, Mr Hughes highlighted how “Ms Hamilton repeatedly has refused to meet with our group; she is the only candidate not to come down (to Short Heath playing fields) and answer questions.”

Ms Gill responded by saying Paulette Hamilton would take over the good work done by the recently deceased Jack Dromey MP in saving the fields, which immediately irked audience members and Mr Hughes alike, who simply responded: “…it wasn’t Jack Dromey who saved the playing fields it was Short Heath Fields Trust and our community that stopped the houses being built.”

And then Ms Gill uttered perhaps the most important sentence of the night, she said: “Paulette (Hamilton) wants you to know she will get a commitment from the cabinet not to build on the playing fields.”

A statement which would mean a victory for Short Heath Playing Fields Trust, Councillor Robert Alden (Conservative) scented an open goal and ran in saying: “Councillor (Paulette) Hamilton had voted for houses to be built on the land several times as she is part of the cabinet which wanted the estate built.

“She has voted against Erdington at every opportunity.”

Mr Hughes was delighted with the commitment, he agreed: “We saved the playing fields, but we need the cabinet to say they will never build on the land.

“Preet Gill said she was speaking on behalf of Paulette Hamilton and that promise to get a commitment from the cabinet is now on the public record, I just wish she (Hamilton) would have said it herself.”

Trying to cram in as much as possible, each candidate had been allocated one minute to answer questions.

But as the evening wore on answers got longer and strayed further from the point, in some cases totally ignoring the original question.

After an initial question about what the candidates would do to improve the outside perception of Kingstanding – which got lost in translation for most of the panel, apart from independent candidate Michael Lutwyche and the Conservative’s Robert Alden – Gary Byrne, Vice Principal of Kings Rise Academy, asked what each candidate would do to help him improve and “tweak” his curriculum internally to benefit the children in Kingstanding.

With candidates proffering a volley of education based analysis and rhetoric, Mr Byrne became so frustrated at the Green candidate, Siobhan Harper-Nunes, who said she had sent her children to “alternative education”, he eventually sat after declaring the panel were “just not answering the question.”

Claire Westmacott, a volunteer from Bethany Foodbank, asked what the candidates would do for people leaving hospital care without food – but only after making the point she too had asked Paulette Hamilton (Labour) to visit her organisation but had been met with silence.

Jack Brookes (Reform UK) jumped on the question to ask his own to the audience, and the world beyond: “Do you want to freeze to death or starve to death? We need to start fracking; we have 50 years of gas under our feet.”

An ecologically questionable stance unpopular with the crowd, Mr Brookes’ comment also prompted Lee Dargue to demand “…where?”, before looking at the floor as if there was a gas field under the Church Road venue.

Having the timing and confidence of a stand up comedian, the Liberal Democrat also earned a hearty laugh from the audience by saying: “this is the cleanest mic in history” when handed the freshly cleaned microphone, which was being constantly wiped with special sanitiser throughout the evening.

However, it was not just jokes coming from Mr Darge, whose often clear and direct responses earned favour with the Erdington crowd – in an area historically underrepresented by the Liberal Democrats. With the local elections only months away, it led many in the room to wonder how the traditionally placed ‘third party’ will fare on 5 May.

Mr Lutwyche, who also grew more and more popular with the crowd for his straight talking and fiercely local approach, got a round of applause for saying nothing sickened him more than seeing a politician posing in front of a foodbank.

However, as the issue rolled down the panel, none of the candidates succeeded in giving a proper solution to the original question about those leaving hospital going home to starve.

Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim (Redeemed Christian Church of God, Erdington) asked what the candidates would do to stop street crime on Erdington High Street. In September 2021, Pastor Rasaq helped bring the nationwide Street Pastors service to the area – resulting in significant success on Erdington High Street and filling some of the gap left by cuts to community policing.

Several of the politicians reached into their bag of statistics to bolster their arguments but could often be contradicted by each others ‘facts’ and figures. Labour’s complaint Birmingham has lost 1,000 policemen under the Conservative Government was met with a Conservative statistic they had put hundreds of coppers back on the beat.

And with a Labour Police and Crime Commissioner and a Conservative Home Office, both main parties could easily blame each other for rising crime.

However, one statistic truly ridiculed by the audience was the assertion from Christian Peoples Alliance representative Simon Clarke, that 94% of prisoners were criminals without fathers; when heckled about the number he retorted the statistics included the American prison system.

But the issue so many people wanted answering was left until last, and Stockland Green resident Chris, who lives in an area blighted by HMOs and badly managed exempt accommodation, delivered it perfectly.

He wanted to know how the Conservatives and Labour would solve the problem when several of their councillors in Birmingham are HMO landlords themselves.

Prompting Robert Alden (Conservatives) and Lee Dargue (Lib Dems) to publicly clarify neither they nor their family had profited from HMOs, the question got a rowdy shout out from one audience member saying that other candidates vying to be Erdington’s next MP could not say the same.

However, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate, Dave Nellist, who had joined in the hustings via Zoom as he was self-isolating and recovering from Covid, saved his best interjection till last.

In response to the question about HMOs, and Ms Gill’s declaration the Labour run Local Authority was having its hands tied by a Conservative Government, Mr Nellist offered actual examples of what could be done:

Mr Nellist said: “Go to Newham, a Labour run council in London, and see how they have solved the HMO problem by compulsory purchasing these properties… but Birmingham Council will not do this, why not?”

Proper old school politics, answering a question with an actual answer, the room applauded Mr Nellist ardently.

As the clock raced past the allotted two hours debating time, the chairs of the Erdington by-election hustings began to call the event to an end.

A full and engaged room, crammed with both pertinent points and empty rhetoric, the debate over Edrington’s future had raged – with every seat in the house taken by a concerned local resident looking for the best candidate to represent them in Westminster.

As people were asked to leave the venue with the spirit of democracy and not politically tribal anger, the last words spoken through a microphone surmised what had brought all these people out on a Sunday evening, with one of the evening’s chairs reminding the room: “…and don’t forget to vote on Thursday.”

Polling day for the Birmingham Erdington Parliamentary by-election is on Thursday, 3 March.

The 12 candidates contesting the 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).

OPINION: “Conservative candidate Robert Alden is key to our plans,” says Secretary of State for Levelling Up

As the Birmingham Erdington by-election heats up, and voters explore all the candidates and manifestos to decide who is right to represent Erdington in Westminster, the Rt Honourable Michael Gove MP – Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – throws his weight behind the Conservative candidate, Robert Alden.

Polling day for the Birmingham Erdington Parliamentary by-election is on Thursday, 3 March.

Words by Rt Honourable Michael Gove MP

While talent is spread evenly across the UK, opportunity is not. In too many communities there’s a feeling that the only way to get on is to get out.

This needs to change — and it needs to change for good. That’s why our government’s defining mission is to level up this country.

We want opportunity to reach talent wherever it exists, investment to move wherever it’s needed. We don’t want to slice the pie in a different way; we want to grow the pie for everyone.

So levelling up is a team effort. And local champions like Robert Alden, the Conservative candidate at Erdington’s by-election, are key to this team. Let me explain.

Together with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and local MPs like Gary Sambrook, the government has already started to level up Birmingham — and not just the city centre.

Backed by hundreds of millions of pounds in government funding, the Commonwealth Games are helping to create jobs and drive investment to Birmingham. The regeneration of Perry Barr will be a lasting legacy in itself, restoring the community and transforming facilities for residents.

HS2 will put Birmingham right at the heart of our national high-speed rail network. The long-term benefits will see world-class businesses set up in the region and expand the local economy, while the short-term benefits are already being felt in the form of new jobs, including a thousand extra jobs to construct the new Curzon Street in the city centre.

So levelling up isn’t something that may or may not take place in the future; it’s happening, it’s happening right now, and at the risk of repeating myself, it’s happening across the West Midlands.

We’re regenerating the former MG Rover factory in Longbridge, a development that will create thousands of good jobs with decent pay. We’re recruiting hundreds of new police officers for the West Midlands.

And all of this is just the beginning. We have so much more planned, including here in Erdington. But to supercharge our efforts, we need a local team ready to work with us.

That’s why Conservative candidate Robert Alden is key to our plans.

If Robert Alden is elected as Erdington’s next MP, you’ll have a local champion making the case for Erdington directly to Cabinet members like me.

This is what Erdington really needs — someone willing to stand up for the area and make sure residents are heard.

To see what kind of MP Robert will be, take a look at his record as a local councillor. Over the last sixteen years, Robert has been a force to be reckoned with.

He has been a vocal proponent for Levelling Up Funding to transform Edington’s high street, and I’m currently working with him to get this bid over the line.

I’m thrilled that Robert has invited me to visit Erdington and see the opportunities for government investment myself. This is the kind of get-up-and-go that every village, town and city needs for our mission to work.

And if any readers are wondering how they can play a part in levelling up Erdington, I say this: at the Erdington by-election, vote for the person you believe can work with me and my team to secure funding and make things happen. To my mind, that person is Robert Alden.

For more on the Rt Honourable Michael Gove MP visit www.michaelgove.com

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

 

Candidates will be taking questions from the general public at the Birmingham Erdington by-election hustings – held from 6-8pm on Sunday, 27 February, at the GRS Lions Club, Church Road, Erdington.

Click here or on the image above to register for your free ticket – have your voice heard.

 

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

ELECTION NEWS: Local residents “disgusted” over “harmful and upsetting” campaign messages from the Christian Peoples Alliance

By Erdington Local election news team

Local residents are “disgusted” about the pro-life and anti LGBT campaign literature being distributed by the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) ahead of the upcoming Birmingham Erdington Parliamentary by-election.

Mel Mbondiah is contesting the seat on behalf of the CPA, where Erdington voters will elect their next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March.

Terri-Anne Coope, who lives on Castle Vale, believes the CPA leaflets currently being posted through letterboxes across the constituency are ”harmful and upsetting”.

After taking to social media to warn other residents about content of the political flyers, Terri-Ann told Erdington Local:

“As a young woman in the area who has had an abortion, I am absolutely disgusted that the Christian People’s Alliance have used the upcoming by election as an excuse to push pro-life, anti LGBT and anti vaxx rhetoric through our doorsteps.

“Not only is the information provided in the leaflet not factual, the messaging in the leaflet is harmful and upsetting to people who may have gone through or are considering an abortion.

“The decision is difficult enough without comment from their peers or from candidates running for MP, and should be a decision we are able to make freely without judgement.

She added: “These views would become more damaging to local women and communities if she (Mel Mbondiah) were to take them to Parliament.

“I am horrified that these views are being pushed through people’s letterboxes without consideration to the situations of the people reading the leaflets.”

After making her initial complaint on social media, Ms Coope got widespread support with many feeling the CPA messaging is ill-informed and divisive. Emma Heys had also received a leaflet from the CPA.

She said: “I had one last week. It reads like it was written by an internet troll trying to get a rise out of people.

“Was entertained by the fact that some of her references were YouTube videos, though. Says everything you need to know really.”

Christian’s People’s Alliance candidate Mel Mbondiah pastors a church in Walsall with her husband and is described on her party’s website and as a social worker in Birmingham.

The CPA was founded in 1999 and now enters candidates into local and General Elections.

Addressing several topics on their campaign literature, including “detailed policies to support marriage” and how “Covid-19 came from a lab in Wuhan”, in the section titled ‘When Life Starts’ the CPA continues to state:

“Science proves a new unique human life starts at conception and has a different DNA than it’s mother, it’s an individual person, not just part of the mother’s body.”

The statement is published next to a picture the flyer claims to be an eight week year old embryo.

In England, Scotland, and Wales, women have the legal right to terminate a pregnancy within the first twenty-four weeks, or beyond that point for valid medical reasons.

The CPA also support the controversial practice of conversion therapy, which the UK Government is trying to outlaw after complaints from LGBT people who have been forced by families to attend courses.

The CPA website states: “We will provide free therapy and counselling for those suffering from ‘gender dysphoria’ to help live a fulfilling life in their natural identity based on their God-given biological sex.

“Similarly, people should be free to obtain counselling of whatever kind they choose (faith based or otherwise) to deal with, and overcome, unwanted same-sex attraction.

“Attempts to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for unwanted same sex attraction are an infringement on the civil liberty of those freely seeking to change their lives in a way that they believe is for the better, and we would always oppose such measures.”

Erdington Local reached out to Mel Mbondiah for comment, but at the time of writing the CPA candidate had not responded.

In a previous profile piece for the Erdington Local newspaper, Mel Mbondiah stated:

“I promise to serve all constituents in Erdington to the best of my ability if I am elected to represent them.”

Polling day for the Birmingham Erdington Parliamentary by-election is on Thursday, 3 March.

The 12 candidates contesting the 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 the Christian Peoples Alliance visit https://cpaparty.net/

ELECTION NEWS: Meet MP candidates at the Birmingham Erdington hustings – Sunday 27 February

By Erdington Local election news team

On Sunday, 27 February, local voters and members of the public can ask questions directly to candidates wanting to become Erdington’s next Member of Parliament – at the Birmingham Erdington hustings.

The event will run from 6-8pm, held at the GRS Lions Club on Church Road – just off Erdington High Street.

Tickets are completely free.

To secure your place at the Birmingham Erdington hustings event, you will need to register via the official Eventbrite website – giving an Erdington address.

Please click on any of the images in this article or visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/erdington-by-elections-hustings-meet-the-candidates-tickets

Organised by Erdington Local and Churches Together, the Birmingham Erdington hustings event will see over 100 local residents and community campaigners grill the MP hopefuls.

The Birmingham Erdington hustings event will be chaired by Reverend Emma Sykes (St Barnabas) and Erdington Local Editor, Ed King.

Sunday, 27 February will be the first time all candidates have been invited to answer questions together and infornt of the general public, directly addressing the key issues affecting Erdington – such as HMOs and exempt accommodation, protecting green spaces, illegal fly tipping, street crime, healthcare, and the rise in energy prices.

The candidates will each get a chance to answer a series of pre-approved questions within a set time frame, explaining the strategy and policies they would use to help locals if successful elected as Erdington’s next MP.

There will then be an ‘open floor’ section where members of the public can ask further questions about more specific issues from across the community.

If you would like to ask a question to the candidates at the Birmingham Erdington hustings event the please email hustings@erdingtonlocal.com

All candidates running in the Birmingham Erdington by-election were invited to the hustings on Sunday, 27 February.

At the time of writing, the following MP candidates (in alphabetical order) have confirmed they will be attending:

Robert Alden (Conservatives), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Lee Dargue (Liberal Democrats), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green Party), Clifton Holmes (Independent), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Thomas O’Rourke (The Peaky Blinders)

Dave Bishop (Militant Bus Pass Elvis Party) and Mel Mbondiah (Christian Peoples Alliance) have expressed an interest in attending but are unable to confirm.

The Good Knight Sir NosDa (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party) has not yet responded.

The only candidate to decline the invitation to attend the Erdington Birmingham hustings on Sunday, 27 February was Paulette Hamilton (Labour) – due to family commitments.

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

For more information of the Birmingham Erdington husting event, and to secure your free ticket, please click on any of the images above or visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/erdington-by-elections-hustings-meet-the-candidates-tickets

Google Map to the GRS Lions Club, Church Road, Erdington, B24 9BA:

ELECTION NEWS: Labour leader states “Paulette Hamilton is part of the answer” during visit to Erdington High Street

By Erdington Local election news team

On Wednesday, 16 February, Labour leader Keir Starmer boosted his party’s Erdington by-election candidate stating: “Paulette Hamilton is part of the answer” – during a visit to Erdington High Street.

Coming to Birmingham on the last day of his UK tour, Keir Starmer joined Cllr Hamilton for a tour of the high street, discussing its lack of development in recent years and speaking with local business owners about what resources they needed for a more prosperous Erdington.

Keir Starmer told Erdington Local: “What Erdington needs, what the high street needs, is a very strong advocate – somebody who is going to be in Parliament and knows the communities, knows exactly the change that they want, and is going to be a very loud and powerful voice for them (local people).”

Cllr Hamilton also commented: “We have got to continue to fight to ensure that high streets, like Erdington, get the funding they need, to make people in the local community be proud of their area.”

The Labour leader and Erdington MP candidate, who is also the local councillor for the Holyhead Ward, visited Tia’s Locs & Natural Hair – an established hair dresser for little under a decade, just off the high street on York Road.

They also visited the new Wellbeing Hub run by Witton Lodge Community Association, which took over from the former Health and Wellbeing Walk-in Centre.

Transformed into a multi-service facility that delivers advice, guidance, and support around health, employment, housing and finance, the Wellbeing Hub has been a welcome addition to Erdington High Street – which has seen many banks and national brands leave the in recent years.

Keir Starmer applauded local people and their attitudes towards business development.

He said: “There is no lack of ambition, no lack of ideas or talent in Erdington. But what local people want, is a government that matches that ambition.

“Frankly, if you are not prepared to support Erdington High Street, then how can you seriously talk about levelling up.”

Cllr Hamilton added: “When I moved into Erdington it was like a little village… over the years we’ve lost everything. Local people need to see that Government actually value’s local communities.”

The owner of Tia’s Locs & Natural Hair, Moya (Tia’s daughter), age 30, told Erdington Local: “We’ve known Paulette since the shop opened. She’s been one of our longstanding clients for years, always giving us support and just an absolute delight to talk to”.

When Moya was asked about her confidence in Labour’s ability to deliver change for Erdington, she added: “I feel very confident in her (Paulette Hamilton), definitely.”

Mum of two, Donna Hewitt, didn’t share the local business owner’s confidence.

Standing outside the salon as the Labour leader and MP hopeful stopped for press photos, Ms Hewitt told Erdington Local:

“I’m having to travel from a hotel room in Edgbaston to schools in Erdington (Osborne, St Edmund Campion) every morning.

“I don’t have any heating and the Local Authority are doing nothing… they offered me a flat on the 10th floor of a high rise block,  but I’ve got two children – one has a foot disease and the other isn’t steady walking yet.

“I want to see them help people like us. They can stop having their picture taken and come and help us – I feel like I’m being left out.”

Erdington High Street has recently missed out on two multi million pound regeneration initiatives, the Future High Street and Levelling Up funds.

Addressing the lack of government investment into Erdington, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said:

“We want to get rid of business rates, what a difference that would make to the high street, because it would allow businesses to flourish, and other businesses to come in and make their business on the high street to bring it back to the sort of high street it was many years ago.”

In defence of Erdington, he added: “how shocking is it that the government has actually refused the bid twice for the money that’s needed on Erdington High Street.”

Labour MP hopeful, Paulette Hamilton, also criticised the lack of concrete funding in Erdington. She explained:

“We have gone to Government to get the funding for our high street, and on two occasions we have been refused the funding.”

“We need true levelling up. What I want to see with levelling up, is that places like the high street in Erdington, that we get the funding we need to really develop the high street.”

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).

Cllr Paulette Hamilton and Keir Starmer discuss investment into Erdington High Street

For more on Cllr Paulette Hamilton and her campaign to become Erdington’s next Member of Parliament visit www.facebook.com/Paulette4Erdington

ELECTION NEWS: Conservative MP candidate Robert Alden will “work closely” with Policing Minister to tackle crime in Erdington

By Erdington Local election news team

Cllr Robert Alden has stated he will “work closely with the (policing) minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel” to ensure people will be safer on the streets of Erdington, during a visit from Policing Minister Kit Malthouse MP.

Out on the campaign trail, ahead of the by election on 3 March, local lad and Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden brought the Policing Minister to Erdington – to see first hand the problems he wants to tackle in the constituency.

Previous visits have seen Nadhim Zahawi MP (Secretary of State for Education) and Jacob Rees-Mogg (Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency) also join Robert Alden in Erdington.

On the streets of Stockland Green with Policing Minister Kit Malthouse MP, Cllr Alden was speaking after a walking meeting around Slade Road.

The Conservative MP candidate and Policing Minister were discussing how the Government’s Safer Streets funding is being spent in the area and Robert Alden’s plans to tackle crime.

Safer Streets is a government led initiative that has recently seen £432,000 invested into Stockland Green – addressing issues over street crime and public safety, alongside grant funding for projects by local community groups.

Currently the Ward Councillor for Erdington, if elected MP Robert Alden would be responsible for all areas across the constituency.

If elected, Alden has stated his intention to fight for more police officers on the ground, continued support for the Safe Streets programme, and to challenge planning laws and licensing around HMO and exempt accommodation providers.

Cllr Alden also wants to explore more Public Space Protection Orders like the one recently reinstated in Erdington Town Centre, giving the police extended powers to tackle street level anti social behaviour.

“I was delighted to welcome Kit Malthouse to Erdington constituency today to discuss crime and the impact it is having here,” Robert said.

“We had a constructive talk on how to tackle things like anti-social behaviour and drugs crime which can be a blight on lives around here.

“He was on board with my plans to make the area safer such as lobbying for more police officers here as part of the Government’s 20,000 officer recruitment programme.

“I also told him how I want to work with various organisations and the police here to tackle some of the crime issues in areas like Stockland Green and Kingstanding and expand on the positive impact from the Government-funded Safer Streets scheme around the Slade Road area.

“But ultimately, I can only work closely with the minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel to put my plans into action if I am elected MP next month.

“People in Castle Vale, Erdington and Kingstanding have talked to me about their worries surrounding crime during this campaign and the way my plan to keep streets safe can make a difference.

“I want to be our MP so I will be able to implement my plan, tackle these issues and make sure everyone who lives and works here feels safer on the streets and in their homes,” he added.

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: 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

__________

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.”