Birmingham local elections 2022: Conservative manifesto and boosting the suburbs

Robert ‘Bobby’ Alden, the leader of Birmingham Conservatives launched his party’s manifesto at an event in Weoley Castle, pledging to “unleash Birmingham’s potential”

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The 23-page-document is aimed at Birmingham’s suburbs, and the local Conservative Party has explicitly distanced themselves from the national Conservative party. The manifesto stated this year’s local elections is “not about national politics [but] rather it’s about who are the best people to run Birmingham city council”.

The document commits the party to invest over £100 million pounds in the suburban areas of Birmingham to level them up and reverse what they argue is Birmingham Labour’s heavy “focus” on the city centre.

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They also promised to scrap clean air zone fees for private vehicles; roll out mental health first aiders within Birmingham’s schools; and reintroduce the ‘homes for heroes’ scheme.

Joined by Birmingham Conservative MPs Andrew Mitchell and Gary Sambrook, councillor Alden claimed if his party did not go out on the doorstep, residents would have been “abandoned” by Birmingham Labour.

Birmingham Conservative Party manifesto launch in Weoley CastleBirmingham Conservative Party manifesto launch in Weoley Castle
Birmingham Conservative Party manifesto launch in Weoley Castle

What has Cllr Alden said in his own words?

He said: “We know full well in this city that all Birmingham Labour are focusing on is the city centre.  We saw it in their manifesto launch, when they were in the city centre talking about how much they’d invested there with no plan for anywhere else in Birmingham.

“That’s the real choice that residents face at the local elections, you have a local Conservative group here in Birmingham who are focused on helping everyone across our city – levelling up the whole of Birmingham, ensuring we get investment to help regenerate our communities, and provide secure jobs.”

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Robert Alden’s 2018 manifesto launch was widely seen as a step away from national politics and then prime minister Theresa May, highlighting their green credentials and accused Labour of taking Birmingham to the “last chance saloon”.

Birmingham City Council Conservative Lead Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington)Birmingham City Council Conservative Lead Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington)
Birmingham City Council Conservative Lead Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington)

Key points of the Birmingham Conservatives manifesto

The Conservatives say their manifesto which covers all the services that Birmingham residents use every day sets out plans to:

  • Retain weekly residual waste collections, collect the bins on time, roll out free bulky and garden waste collection and introduce food recycling.
  • Invest over £100 million pounds in the suburban areas of Birmingham to level them up and reverse Birmingham Labour’s focus on the City Centre.
  • Lock all the green spaces in the City into a trust to prevent them being developed in the future and roll out a new pocket park for each ward.
  • Tackle the rise in HMOs and Exempt Accommodation through refusing to work with poor providers and providers who convert family housing, as well as, buying back houses and converting them into family houses.
Birmingham City Council HouseBirmingham City Council House
Birmingham City Council House

The Birmingham Conservative party also issued four specific pledges to voters

The four pledges are as follows:

Move museums out of the City Centre

The local Birmingham Conservatives announced they plan to move the City’s Museum Collection Centre, currently in Nechells, to Erdington High Street, and build the new Science and Industry Museum in Northfield.

They believe this will “ensure a better spread” of cultural activities across the city and increase the numbers of people supporting local businesses in areas that may not always get high footfall.

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Cllr Robert Alden, the local Conservative group leader, said: “Our high streets and local centres have never needed us more than they do now and for the last decade, Labour have let them down time and time again. It’s not rocket science, there is more the council can be doing, and our plan will ensure that every community sees the benefit of our rich history in Birmingham.”

Restoring nature and green spaces

The Conservatives claim a decade of Labour control on Birmingham City Council has led to the loss of enough green space to cover Vatican City. Working with the Fields in Trust organisation, the Tories have set out a plan to increase tree canopy in Birmingham from 18 per cent to “at least 30 per cent”.

Cllr Timothy Huxtable, shadow cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “Trees are just one part of our plan, but nevertheless a vitally important one. We all know the benefit of planting more trees; they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reduce stress and improve our mental well-being, encourage more social interaction and a stronger sense of community and trees help to improve soils and prevent flooding and erosion.

“We need to be moving forward not backwards as we have been over the last few years – that is why we are pledging a pocket park for each ward increasing the number from 6 to 69. Not only will we create new spaces for trees, but we will also look to use the extensive canal network we have to plant more trees along the routes.”

Ten new skate/BMX parks

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One new skate/BMX park has been promised in every one of ten constituencies across Birmingham if the Conservatives take control of the city council next month. This idea was proposed by Cllr Alden but spearheaded by Cllr Simon Morral, who was a keen skateboarder as a teenager.

Cllr Morrall said: “I grew up around Great Park where the local cinema and nursery used to let me skateboard on their car park providing we stay clear of cars and were tidy.

“Fast forward to today and I see young people reverting to either a life of crime or recluse away to a life trapped away in a bedroom, checking out of society. Many of our young people don’t have a purpose and it feels like the establishment is completely out of touch on this issue and I haven’t stopped talking about this for four years on the City Council.”

Clean up the streets

Lastly, the Conservatives have promised to clean up Birmingham’s streets – a big issue in the run-up to the election. In a press release, Birmingham Conservatives said they would:

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Increase the reliability of collections – ensuring bins are collected weekly and on time

Scrap the charge for bulky waste and garden collection

Expand the level of CCTV coverage in known hotspots to drive up prosecutions.

Have a dedicated clean-up crew for each neighbourhood

Retain the Mobile Household Recycling Centres

Increase recycling rates in the City

You can see manifesto in full here: Birmingham Conservative Manifesto

The polls are open on Thursday, May 5. You can see the full list of candidates here

How many seats are up for grabs in the election on Thursday, May 5?

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All 101 seats on Birmingham City Council are up for grabs at this year’s local elections, taking place on Thursday, May 5.

Voters from Birmingham’s 69 wards will head to polling booths to choose their local councillor, with the count taking place from 9am the following day on Friday and results expected by late afternoon.

Labour currently hold a strong majority in the city with 65 out of the 101 seats. Conservative councillors form the opposition with 27 seats, while the Liberal Democrats hold eight and the Green Party holds one. In total there are nearly 400 people standing for election.

As ever, the results of local elections often reflect how the country feels about politics happening on a national level, so issues like the Ukrainian crisis, party-gate, and the cost-of-living crisis are expected to have a significant impact. On a more local level, issues affecting Birmingham such as bins, transport and education are also expected to influence voters. Both Labour and the Tories appear to be placing a lot of stock in cleaning up Birmingham’s streets.

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