As part of our 2012 election coverage we have contacted each candidate in Kings Norton, Longbridge, Northfield and Weoley wards by letter or email asking them to contribute to this year’s ’500 Words’ series. Each candidate has been invited to describe themselves and their campaigns in their own words.

Valeria Seabright sent us the following.

I am standing for Labour in Kings Norton Ward to make life better for people in the Ward and in Birmingham.

Kings Norton Ward
I live in the Ward, on the edge of the Three Estates, shop in Kings Norton, and regularly visit its library. As a mother, grandmother, primary school governor, former teacher, youth worker and union activist, I have experienced many of the things that affect you. All my life I have tried to work with others to collectively improve our lives and conditions, in political organisations and in Trade Unions. Alongside your two Labour councillors, Steve Bedser and Peter Griffiths, I worked to get 21 houses in Primrose refurbished and let to families, improving the area, providing homes for families, and bringing rent income to the Council. I help on problems with housing repairs, potholes in roads and pavements, rubbish and fly tipping. With Steve and Peter, I am working to improve empty Council homes in Pool Farm so they can be re-let to families.

Kings Norton deserves a better deal from the Council. In many areas housing is poor, and the rubbish and anti-social behaviour blights everyone’s lives. Local jobs arising from the regeneration of the Three Estates should mainly go to local people, including young people. We should improve youth facilities so our young people have useful things to do and decent places to go. Cutting police numbers makes us less safe and leads to more crime. Areas on some of our estates have been allowed to run down, with empty vandalised buildings and fly tipping. I will work with local people and community groups to ensure all Kings Norton residents have a bigger say in what their areas need. Labour has improved Kings Norton Park and opposed closing the Navigation pub to build a supermarket.

Birmingham
Life in Kings Norton Ward depends on the success of Birmingham as a whole. Tough choices have to be made when there is less money to go round. But Labour is committed to delivering fairness in tough times and to offering better chances for the next generation.

In Birmingham and nationally, the out-of-touch Tory/LibDem government and local Council are hitting families hard, making tough times even tougher with policies that are hurting but not working. Getting people into work is the best way to bring the deficit down. Youth unemployment will cost Birmingham £625 million in the decade ahead. Nationally: We would tax bankers’ bonuses to create a fund to help 4,000 of Birmingham’s young people back to work. We know Birmingham’s families are feeling the squeeze so nationally we’d temporarily reverse the VAT rise – putting £450 back into families’ pockets and knocking 3p/litre off fuel. Locally we’ll boost jobs and businesses. We want Birmingham to be Britain’s enterprise capital. We’ll take action to ensure our schools educate and train our children for skilled jobs of the future. We will try to clear up the city’s financial mess left by the Tories & LibDems, without raising council tax or cutting local services like weekly rubbish collection.

For this area and for Birmingham I hope I can make a difference for the better.

Valerie Seabright

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