OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Words and pics supplied by Erdington Ward Cllr Robert Alden – Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

It has been another busy month, here is some of what Cllr Gareth Moore and I have been up to:

Summer has arrived and so has the summer fete season, kicked off by a wonderful Arts and Crafts Fayre at St Barnabas Church, which Gareth and I attended. This included the launch of a historical exhibition of old photos of Erdington by the Erdington Historical Society.

It’s always great to see the wonderful range of community events that take place each year, put on and run by local volunteers.

Sadly, over the last month the High Street has had a series of serious criminal incidents. We’ve met with a number of local residents about these and are in contact with local Police.

These incidents are totally unacceptable, and it is vital that more is done by West Midlands Police to ensure residents in Erdington are kept safe and anyone causing ASB or crime on the High Street are not allowed to continue this behaviour.

We will of course do all we can to try and secure additional policing resources from West Midlands Police to support our excellent local policing team.

This month we’ve also been at the latest project meeting for the Erdington Baths Scheme. The £4m needed for converting the baths into an Enterprise Hub has now been secured.

Witton Lodge Community Association, who are running the delivery of the scheme, are hoping work will start later in the summer.

For more from Erdington’s Councillor Robert Alden and Councillor Gareth Jones visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Words and pics supplied by Erdington Ward Cllr Robert Alden – Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

The last month has been busy as always, with colleagues and I continuing to push a number of campaigns to support residents.

Together with Kingstanding local campaigner, Clifton Welch, we recently met with staff from the NHS to continue to push for Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre (soon to be closed for urgent roof repairs) to be reopened longer term.

I have also been supporting Clifton Welch with his new ‘Pride in Kingstanding’ campaign that has seen him clearing dozens of bags of rubbish off the streets of Kingstanding, including clearing the alley between Gainford Road and College Road and clean numerous road signs locally to remove graffiti and dirt.

Cllr Gareth Moore and I were also joined by Kingstanding Campaigner Clifton Welch, who is leading the campaign to keep Perry Common and Kingstanding Libraries open, and Parliamentary Spokesperson Steve Knee at the public consultation event on the future of libraries in the city.

We have been clear to the Council that we think Erdington, Kingstanding and Perry Common Libraires should be protected and remain open.

We have put forward a fully costed alternative, approved by Council officers, which would allow the Labour administration to scrap their plan to close our libraires. We will continue to push them to listen to the calls of residents.

Finally, thank you to everyone who voted for Andy Street in the recent West Midlands Mayoral election, sadly Andy lost by under 2000 votes across the whole urban West Midlands..

For more from Erdington’s Councillor Robert Alden and Councillor Gareth Jones visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Words and lead pic supplied by Erdington Ward Cllr Robert Alden – Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Cllr Gareth Moore and I, working with Parliamentary Spokesman Steve Knee and local campaigner Clifton Welch, have been leading the campaign to save Erdington, Kingstanding and Perry Common Libraries from the savage Labour Council’s bankruptcy cuts.

Gareth, Steve and I (pictured) joined the recent Friends of Erdington Library for their ‘read in’ protest and also held a public meeting calling for the saving of Erdington Library.

Erdington Library is a vital part of the heritage and character of our local High Street, it provides valuable services for local residents and gives people access to resources they may not otherwise be able to use. It must be saved!

This month has also seen the Labour Council launch their consultation on the ‘Be Heard’ Council consultation site. We attended the public consultation event for Erdington Library recently held by the Council. Sadly, the Council did not allow residents to make any verbal contributions, nor was any Erdington specific information shared with residents who attended.

This was frankly totally disgraceful and no way for the Council to treat residents. Sadly, the way the consultation has so far been run by the Council suggests they have contempt for the Library service.

Thank you to the 100’s who have already signed our petition to save our libraires, if you have not yet signed you can by going to our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews and also to the Friends for their continued efforts fighting to save our local library as well.

For more from Erdington’s Councillor Robert Alden and Councillor Gareth Jones visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic by Ed King – from Erdington Local archives

This month saw the Labour Council approve their new bankruptcy budget, leaving residents facing a double whammy of higher taxes and fewer services.

The Conservative opposition put forward a fully costed amendment, approved by officers, which would have saved all local libraries, increased street cleaning, scrapped Labour’s new ‘Rat Tax’ charge on pest controls and protected other services immediately and in the long term, showing how the Council can maintain weekly bin collections, funding in youth/adult services and keep Council Tax lower.

Sadly all 53 Labour Councillors voted against our alternative, instead voting for the Labour bankruptcy budget. Only Labour Councillors voted for Labour’s double whammy which puts up Council Tax by 21% over the next 2 years and closes most libraries.

Rest assured that Cllr Gareth Moore and I continue our campaign to try to save Erdington, Kingstanding and Perry Common libraries. You can sign our petition by visiting our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

Gareth and I are also delighted to announce funding has been secured to refurbish the Tennis Courts in Rookery Park, Brookvale Park and Pype Hayes Park.

The Council are trying to introduce charges for using these tennis courts. Gareth and I have been clear this is totally unacceptable. Thankfully have listened to us and the charges proposed will not happen in Erdington Ward; Rookery Park Tennis Courts will remain free.

In Stockland Green Brookvale will also remain free; however we will continue to fight for proposed charges to also be scrapped in Pype Hayes Park.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

NEWS: Derbyshire businessman Steve Knee selected as next Conservative parliamentary candidate for Birmingham Erdington

Words by Ed King / Group pic supplied by Birmingham Conservatives – other pics taken from Steve Knee’s YouTube content

Derbyshire businessman Steve Knee has been selected as the next Conservative parliamentary candidate for the Birmingham Erdington seat – as voted for by locally registered party members.

Following the announcement that longstanding Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden will not contest the seat in the upcoming General Election, as he has done over the last four, a selection meeting was organised for 13 March to choose the Conservative’s new Erdington MP hopeful.

On Thursday 14 March, the Birmingham Conservatives issued a statement confirming Mr Knee as their next parliamentary candidate for the Birmingham Erdington seat.

Steve Knee is an established businessman and entrepreneur, who set up Cloudbass Multimedia Limited in February 2009 – a television programme production company which broadcasts high profile events from the London Olympic Games opening ceremony to Glastonbury Festival.

According to documents on file at Companies House, Cloudbass Multimedia Limited is the “largest independently owned” outside broadcast facilities provider – operating from three sites across the UK.

Successfully navigating through the Covid pandemic and international lockdowns, which saw the ruin of many organisations that work with the entertainment sector, Cloudbass Multimedia retains its 40,000 sqft headquarters in Derbyshire – where Mr Knee also lives with his wife and three children.

Mr Knee has also previously stood for the Duffield and Quarndon Ward in the 2023 Amber Valley Borough Council elections, alongside running mate Martin Betteridge – coming in second with around 27% of the turnout, beating Labour but losing to the incumbent Green Party.

Following his selection as parliamentary candidate for the Birmingham Erdington seat, Mr Knee told: “I’m absolutely delighted… as a constituency with a rich heritage, I’m looking forward to representing the people and to help improve their real world outcomes, from the cost of living to dealing with the fallout from the City Council cuts.”

He added: “I’m a passionate advocate of renewable energy, not only for the environmental benefits but as the cheapest form of energy production it can make a real different to the cost of living.”

Following Mr Knee’s selection, Birmingham Conservatives Association Chairman and Erdington Ward Councillor Gareth Moore stated: “Steve (Knee) demonstrated that he is fully aware of the terrible impact Labour’s financial mismanagement will have on residents and how he wants to work with residents and local Conservative Councillors to fight for our area and to help protect vital services like our local libraries.”

The selection meeting on 13 March, held at the Erdington Conservative Club on Orchard Road, also saw local party members confirm to keep in place the following candidates for the 2026 Council elections: Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward), Cllr Gareth Moore (Erdington Ward) and Cllr Rick Payne (Kingstanding Ward).

Steve Knee: Who am I? – taken from Mr Knee’s own YouTube channel

NEWS: Councillor Robert Alden will not stand for Birmingham Erdington seat at upcoming General Election

Words and pics by Ed King / Profile pic of Cllr Robert Alden supplied by Birmingham Conservatives

Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden will not be standing for the Birmingham Erdington seat in the upcoming General Election – as he has done successively since 2010.

Birmingham Conservative members who live within the Erdington constituency will be voting for their new parliamentary candidate on Wednesday 13 March – alongside further votes to select Conservative candidates for the Erdington, Pype Hayes, and Kingstanding Wards.

Party members outside of the specific constituency and Ward boundaries will not be eligible to vote but have been invited to attend the selection meeting, where the nominees will be presented and voted on – to be held tonight at the Erdington Conservative Club on Orphanage Road from 7:30pm.

Whilst the date for the next General Election is yet to be set, in accordance with parliamentary process it must be called by 28 January 2025.

However, many have speculated Prime Minister Sunak will announce May as the month – with growing speculation about a ‘snap election’ following the recent defection of Conservative Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson to Reform UK.

Leader of the Birmingham Conservatives, Robert Alden has been an Erdington Ward councillor since 2006 after taking it from Labour – a position he now shares with Conservative running mate, Cllr Gareth Moore.

A prolific figurehead in the area, who lives in central Erdington, Cllr Alden stood against Erdington’s previous MP Jack Dromey in four General Elections. After the sudden death of Mr Dromey in 2022, he stood against Paulette Hamilton in the March ’22 by-election – losing a fiercely fought campaign with 36.3% of the turnout.

As a local councillor, Robert Alden has held the Erdington Ward with a comfortable majority – securing his position in the 2022 local elections with over 50% of the turnout.

A recognised campaigner, Cllr Alden has been a long supporter of community groups such as the Erdington Litter Busters – and was heavily involved in the fight to stop a housing development on Short Heath playing fields, backing the successful campaign led by the Short Heath Fields Trust.

Alongside Cllr Gareth Moore, Cllr Alden is currently campaigning to secure the future of Erdington Library, Perry Common Library, and Kingstanding Library, following fears they will be sold off by Birmingham City Council as part of a £500m assets sale to repay a loan from central government to tackle the city’s financial crisis.

However, at the time of writing it is unclear if Cllr Alden will also be withdrawing from contesting the Erdington Ward in the next City Council elections – as well as the Birmingham Erdington constituency in the General Election.

An email sent to Birmingham Conservative members in February said: “As an Association, we have been fortunate in that Cllr Robert Alden has kindly stood as our parliamentary candidate in five previous elections and has achieved some phenomenal results – turning Erdington from the safest Labour seat in Birmingham in 2005 to now the most marginal Labour-held seat in the City in what has sometimes been trying circumstances for the Party.”

The message continues: “Robert has decided to not stand as our parliamentary candidate on this occasion which means we need to choose a new candidate for the General Election.

“In addition to selecting our parliamentary candidate, afterwards the Association will be selecting our local government candidates for the 2026 elections for Erdington, Pype Hayes and Kingstanding Wards.”

Erdington Local has approached Cllr Alden for comment and has been told more information will be released after the selection meeting on 13 March.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

Our local Libraries in North Birmingham are vital community hubs helping to support residents of all ages. Erdington Library in particularly has a brilliant children’s library, excellent staff and services. While the building itself, a Carnegie Library, is listed and a key heritage site on our High Street.

A recent investigation has revealed in the last two years 92,950 people have used Erdington Library while 31,586 people have a membership and 67,779 books have been issued. Making Erdington Library one of the busiest libraries in the city.

As residents you will know Cllr Gareth Moore and I have been fighting over the last few years for the repairs and investment into the Library that are required to ensure that the service is what residents would rightly expect.

Sadly having effectively bankrupted the Council, through their equal pay crisis and botched IT rollout, the Labour administration have now announced that they are closing 25 libraries across the city. Meaning that Erdington Library, along with all the rest in North Birmingham are at risk of closing and being sold off.

Cllr Gareth Moore and I are clear that Erdington Library, along with Kingstanding and Perry Common libraries, must be saved. It would be totally unacceptable for it to close and so we have launched a campaign to protect and save Erdington Library from closure.

Residents can rest assured we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to save our libraries.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

 

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

Sadly, January has seen the Labour Council announce they are putting up Council Tax by up to 21% across the next two years.

That means since the 2012 election, when the Labour administration was elected on a promise not to increase Council Tax, the average resident is paying £855 more, (a 77% increase in Council Tax) since 2012 by the end of next year.

It’s disgraceful that residents are being made to pay more for less services to make up for the failure of the Council Administration.

Before Christmas we had the pleasure of attending many of the wonderful Christmas events that were held; including those at Erdington Abbey Church Hall and St Barnabas School. Thank you to everyone involved with events to share the season with residents, it is really appreciated. 

Frustratingly it’s been another year of botched Christmas refuse collections. The Council advertised a new way of collecting the waste this year – effectively everyone had two collections across three weeks.

However, the dates they published didn’t match the date collections occurred meaning many residents missed refuse/recycling collections. We’ve raised this with the Council.

In what seemed like a trial for Labour imposing fortnightly collections in the future it instead proved why it would cause a massive increase in litter on the streets, e.g. Jarvis Road became covered in uncollected waste.

We’ve demand improvements from the Council and for rubbish to be cleared.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

Last month saw the latest Police All Out Day on Erdington High St, which Cllr Gareth Moore and I are pictured taking part in.

We’ve been working with the local Police and partner agencies to try and increase the enforcement of the Public Space Protection Order and secure increased visibility of Police locally. The regular Police All Out Days are a key part of increasing that visibility and thank you to the local officers for their efforts in recent months. 

Gareth and I were proud to once again help switch on the Christmas Lights this year at the Erdington BID Christmas Light Switch on event. Thank you to John, the BID manager, for his work in pulling the event together again.

Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign against the recent attempt to convert a terraced house on Orchard Road into a children’s care home. The Council policy is clear that terraced houses should not be used due to the impact it has on the surrounding area and, thankfully, the Council rejected the application following the campaign.

Residents will recall that Labour’s equal pay crisis has caused the Council to become effectively bankrupt. We will be doing all we can to protect local services and sites from Labour’s axe when they announce their new budget.

Finally, December brings a wide range of amazing community events to celebrate Christmas in Erdington – Gareth and I look forward to seeing you at some of them during the next few weeks!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas.

(This column was written for initial publication in the Erdington Local newspaper – published on 8 December)

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Recent weeks have seen further developments in the effective ‘bankruptcy’ at Labour run Birmingham City Council, with the external auditors and press raising concerns about what appears to be inappropriate and intimidatory behaviour and toxic working relationships between the Labour Party and senior officers. 

Locally, Cllr Gareth Moore and I have been monitoring the progress of the improvements to the play area and outdoor gym in Rookery Park (pictured inspecting the work recently).

The play area work has been funded by money we secured from the redevelopment of Rookery House, and we supported the Friends of Rookery Park to secure funding for the outdoor gym equipment.

We have continued our work to help keep Erdington safe and are delighted that attempts by an amusement arcade to secure 24 hour opening hours on the High Street have been rejected. This would have attracted ASB and was totally unnecessary.

We have also seen a number of other successes recently with our campaign to retain the Erdington Police Station as the base for local Police teams. This will ensure the building is retained allowing, a possible reopening of the front desk in the future, while also ensuring our Police teams are based locally. 

We are also delighted to announce that we’ve successfully fought to keep Ticket Offices at Erdington, Chester Road and Gravelly Hill Train Stations open following the recent consultation about closing them. 

Thank you to everyone who signed our petitions as part of these campaigns.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews