Cllr Robert Alden is Leader of the Conservative Group on Birmingham City Council.
It may seem strange to talk about next year’s elections when this year’s have only just ended, but that is politics.
So this is an update on what is happening in Birmingham with regard to next year’s “all out” city council elections when the Conservatives hope to take control of Birmingham’s second city once again.
Despite the General Election results, there is much to be positive about. Whilst it is true that we did not gain any MPs in Birmingham on June 8th, and would not have won the city council based on those results; just a few weeks earlier our targeted campaign DID help deliver victory for Conservative, Andy Street, in the election for a West Midlands Mayor. If the votes gained in Birmingham that night had been divided up in the way they will be when next year’s new boundaries come in, the Conservatives would have taken back control of Birmingham from an increasingly failing and left-wing Labour administration.
May 2018 sees the city have “all out” elections fought on new boundaries – one of the recommendations of the Kerslake Review into failings in leadership by the Labour administration. This gives us the opportunity to wipe out the current Labour majority in one go.
While no-one would expect us to reveal all our plans in an article published on a public forum, it’s fair to say we are organised, have a set plan, and are executing it in order to have a good chance of winning back Brum.
And taking back Birmingham is needed now more than ever, not just for the Conservative Party, to show that Urban Conservatism is still alive and as relevant in this century as it was in the last, but – most important of all – because Birmingham residents have been let down by Labour.
Labour took back control of Birmingham in 2012 (from a Conservative led coalition which had run the city since 2004). Since then, the Labour administration has blamed every policy decision they have taken on the Government and reduced budgets.
Failure to deliver on their financial plan, year on year, has led to hundreds of millions of overspend. Even last year, when the Council actually received an increase in funding compared to what it was expecting, Birmingham still failed to meet its financial plan. Despite independent reports suggesting the Council should stop blaming others for its mistakes, every report comes back caveated that it’s all everyone else’s fault.
This month will see the return of strike action to Birmingham’s streets, where the Council’s failure in running the refuse service has boiled over into industrial action. What is telling however is that, in announcing the ballot on proposed industrial action, the Unite regional officer said, “We engaged with waste and refuse bosses in a constructive manner, only to learn that it was a massive overspend which is driving these cuts and not austerity measures.” For the Union of Len McCluskey to be pointing the finger at financial mismanagement of a Labour-run council rather than at “Tory cuts” speaks volumes.
Recently the Labour MP Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill) wrote to the Birmingham Mail about the appalling state of Birmingham’s streets, which have become strewn with fly-tipped waste following counter-productive savings on street cleansing which will surely cost the Council more on ad hoc clearance if they intend on keeping the streets free of rubbish.
Liam Byrne said, after having to report over 200 cases of fly-tipped waste during the recent General Election campaign, “It is a scandalous indictment of a local authority that has lost control of keeping the streets clean, and creates an environment which leads to more serious crime. Other councils do not seem to have these problems. We are paying council leaders a great deal of money and if they can’t organise a basic service, they shouldn’t be in a job.”
Failing services, large overspends, letting down residents and staff, and rubbish piling up on the streets – Labour’s plan for Birmingham has clearly failed.
Our “one city” vision for Birmingham is to produce a city which delivers aspiration, opportunity and security for all residents, no matter where they are born; through the delivery of world class, cost-effective public services for all. Our One City should enable everyone to have the comfort and security of a job and their own home, and help everyone to reach their full potential. As next year’s elections approach, we will be announcing policies and a manifesto for Birmingham which will help deliver this vision.
We will be putting our case to the people of Birmingham, and with their and your support, we can win – and deliver the world class city of aspiration which Brummies deserve.
If you would like to support/donate to the campaign, you can do so by contacting Birmingham Conservatives on 0121-472-0740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org