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