There’s going to be some political stuff here over the next few days – I’m aware some readers will take exception to this, or my opinions – if you do, go here instead – whilst I value everyone’s opinion and contribution, I have views and opinions, and this is my blog. I’ve never shied away from political stuff, and that’s what started this blog, seven years ago to this day.
In case you’re unaware, there are local council and PCC elections in the borough of Walsall this week, on Thursday, 5th May 2016, when you get to vote for one of the three councillors to represent your ward at Walsall, as well as selecting the next Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands.
The election is separate to the EU referendum in June, and is not connected with it.
Right now, Brownhills has Councillor Steve Wade – Labour, Councillor Ken Ferguson – Conservative and Steve Craddock – UKIP. It’s Steve Wade that’s up for election this year.
Steve Wade is standing against Conservative candidate Ben Brittain and UKIP candidate Derek Bennett. Steve and Ben live locally.
Whilst many here can’t fail to notice I’m a left winger, I have criticised here in the past Walsall Labour, Tories and LibDems – in fact, I’d tenure some of Walsall Labour probably loathe me more than the Tories. Likewise, I’ve not been slow to praise good Councillors of any stripe; Mike Flower may have been a Tory, but he was good in Walsall Wood and gave a toss. I continue to hold Pelsall Tory Marco Longhi in high regard, despite disagreeing with him stridently on lots of issues.
I hold off on telling people who to vote for, because that’s not my place and we all must decide for ourselves. however, I’ve been watching politics for a few months in Brownhills and have noticed a rather unpleasant note to proceedings.
The Conservatives in Walsall are currently holding power in a ramshackle coalition with UKIP and independents, and are desperate to win seats and consolidate power on Thursday. Recently their budget was voted down and unless they increase their number of councillors, life could be very difficult for them.
Control of Walsall Council probably rests on about four seats this year, one of which is Brownhills.
Walsall Council has traditionally been finely balanced, but the Conservatives have held power here either by themselves or in coalition for most of the last 16 years. Since Brownhills is an unpredictable ward electorally, the Conservatives have thrown a lot of energy into campaigning in Brownhills over the last few months. They want your vote, and don’t seem to care much how they get it.
I wasn’t minded to comment, but something changed my mind a while ago which I’ll come to later in the week, and I think it’s time to speak up for Councillor Wade.
I have found Steve – who lives in Brownhills West, and whose lad goes to a local school – a pleasant, quietly spoken man on the few occasions I’ve met him – but I know that he’s been working hard here for years. Steve doesn’t shout about what he’s doing, or make a big fuss with press photos and showy publicity stunts – he just gets on with being a Councillor, taking time to help people and try and improve life in Brownhills.
Steve has dealt with flyposting by removing the posters himself, he’s swept accessways and collected littler of his own volition. Because he cares.
Steve has been battling for years to get Walsall Council to legally enforce the owners of Ravens Court to clean it up; Steve has never had any truck with the vague promises sold to more credulous politicians of upcoming big names and redevelopment; he recognised a long time ago that only legal action could make a difference, and has pursued the cause doggedly.
After years of other politicians being willing, useful fools and relaying false promise, it finally looks like legal action may be imminent.
As to other matters locally, Tory promises were made to fight for the local Police Station before the last election, yet it still closed without a whimper, and whilst Conservative candidates and the local MP have been asked about other local cuts and closures – like the upcoming loss of the Walsall Housing Group office in Silver Court – nothing has been done.
When the Brownhills to Birmingham bus service was under threat, it was Steve Wade who raised petitions, organised meetings with the authorities and bus company, and actually invited the public to join him in those, only for the Tories to attempt to take the credit after the event.
Steve shares the work he does on his blog and via Facebook, and has recently been interviewed by the wonderful Madwblog for Clayhanger. I commend readers who may be interested to check it out.
I’m not telling anyone who to vote for, you must think for yourselves. But I know who I support, and who best supports our town.
Think about it: in the last decade and a half in Brownhills, what has a Tory council ever done for Brownhills?