Cllr Robert Alden is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Birmingham City Council.
In just a couple of weeks’ time, in 230 Councils across England, residents will vote for over 8,000 Councillors; others will also vote in four Mayoral Elections. The Conservatives are defending over 3,300 seats and are standing in 93 per cent of the available seats (7,527). Despite current opinion polls, this is far more than the Labour Party, who are standing in just 77 per cent of seats (6,231).
The Council elections are taking place across a range of District, Metropolitan, and Unitary authorities, with many being ‘all out’ elections for their Council, meaning that the whole Council is up for election, placing control of the Council up in the air and representing the only chance for the next four years to win these Council seats.
With opinion polls showing Labour leads from mid-teens to mid-twenties, now more than ever, Conservative Councillors, members, and supporters, need to do all we can to support those with elections.
Here in Birmingham, as Leader of the Conservative Group, I often talk about how we view our councillors, candidates, and members, as being part of an extended Conservative Party family and when times are tough, family comes together and helps each other.
So with no elections here in Birmingham this year, Conservative Councillors and activists from Birmingham have been encouraged to get out to neighbouring areas with elections, and help out.
From Sandwell to Solihull, Bromsgrove to Wolverhampton, Dudley to Tamworth and many more, members from Birmingham Conservatives have been out to help the amazing local teams who have been working so tirelessly to hold and gain Council seats come the May elections.
Local elections are vital as they determine who runs your local Council and this can make a massive difference to residents. Compare the impact for residents of Conservative-run Wychavon District Council, in Worcestershire, which has frozen council tax bills for the sixth year in a row to Labour-run Councils like Birmingham, which has increased Council Tax by 46 per cent since 2012.
Consider the difference Conservative-run Solihull has made to residents through its award-winning Habitat and Nature Improvements Project, to the recent Green Spaces review in Labour-run Sandwell which found 83 per cent of amenity greenspaces and 87 per cent of green corridors were classified as poor, failing local residents. Conservative-run Solihull’s Habitat and Nature Improvements Project was a three-year programme of woodland, grassland, wetland, and water quality improvements across 24 individual habitat projects in publicly accessible green space within the urban areas of the borough, proving the difference between a Labour-run Council like Sandwell and Conservative-run Council like Solihull.
Here in the wider West Midlands region, Labour-run Birmingham City Council (at 22.8 per cent) and Coventry (at 28.6 per cent) have some of the lowest recycling rates in the country. Yet Conservative run Councils like Stratford-on-Avon (at 55.5 per cent) have some of the highest recycling rates in the Country.
Across local government you can see examples of Conservative Councils and Councillors making a difference to residents’ lives. Councils like Conservative-run Dudley Council which provide ‘Free Swim’ for children during school holidays, free car parking for local centres to encourage people to shop local and building a new SEND School.
On Sunday, Conservative Party Chairman, Greg Hands, warned that we may lose over 1,000 Councillors on May 4th, a third of the councillors we are defending.
There is no doubt that currently times are tough for the party and when times are tough family pulls together.
Now more than ever, the Conservative family needs to pull together and support those with elections on May 4th to make sure that we do all we can to make sure we win as many Councillors as possible.
Anyone who has stood for election knows how hard those standing for election this year will be working and how grateful a candidate is for every single pair of helping hands that appear during the campaign.
So if you don’t have elections in your area this year please try to get out to nearby areas with elections and help out. Your help will be warmly appreciated by those with elections and could just be the difference between a win and a loss in that seat.
After all, you never know, next time it may be your area that needs help, come election time!