As part of our 2018 Local Election coverage, we have contacted each candidate standing in 16 wards across South West Birmingham, asking them to contribute to this election’s ’500 Words’ series.
Each candidate has been invited to describe themselves and their campaigns in their own words. Their submissions will be published – without editing – in the order that they are received. Should they be longer than 500 words, they will be cropped.
With the formation of new wards across the city, this is an all-out election, with every seat up for grabs. Some wards have one seat and some have two. Learn more about the ward changes and your candidates.
Our latest submission is a joint one from both Labour party candidates for Bournbrook and Selly Park ward, where two seats are being decided: Brigid Jones and Karen McCarthy
Who are we?
We, Brigid and Karen, have been proud to represent this area since 2011 and 2012 respectively. We both came here as students (albeit 30 years apart!), fell in love with the city, and never left. Karen raised her family here and spent 25 years as a governor at Tiverton School, and is chair of a local charity. Brigid was a student officer at the Guild of Students, governor at Selly Park Girls, and worked for the University of Birmingham before becoming a councillor. We both know and love the area.
What have we done so far?
Our biggest focus has been on housing. Responding to local concerns about overcrowding and a lack of housing for families and local workers, we’ve introduced an Article 4 direction to limit the number of homes in the area that can be converted into Houses of Multiple Occupation. But we haven’t stopped there – from July, all landlords letting to three or more adults locally will have to get a licence, which will enable us to take action where they are making neighbours’ and tenants’ lives a misery, and drive up standards the standard of those homes. We’ve never been afraid to pursue landlords through the courts when they put up illegal or substandard builds.
It has been an incredibly tough time to be a councillor, as the Tory and Lib Dem coalition, and now Theresa May’s government have cut more than half a billion pounds from Birmingham’s budget since 2010. This has left us with some impossibly difficult decisions to make. However, we’ve been proud to innovate to keep things going locally. Selly Oak Library has moved into the Sense building, which also hosts a range of community activity. Tiverton Pool is going to find a new lease of life as a gym. We’ve dropped speed limits across the ward down to 20mph, to make the area safer for everyone. We’ve worked with your local residents associations on the things that matter locally, from securing new flood defences for the houses off Pershore Road, to conservation in Selly Park, to picking up litter on Warwards Lane.
We’ve also had city wide responsibilities. Brigid was responsible for children’s services for five years, securing continuous improvement in the service. Karen has led on revolutionising local working across the city.
We are working with the Guild and University to clean up Bournbrook over the summer, and we hope to have new measures in place for the autumn term, including guaranteed weekly bin collections for the whole city. We want to help grow residents associations in the areas without them, to stand up for the area, make them safer and help us achieve change. And we will make the most of the new Sainsbury’s development and the Commonwealth Games to make sure that local people truly benefit.
It’s been an honour to serve you and we hope to carry on changing our area for the better.