Group of activists holding pamphlets on urban street.

Bournbrook & Selly Park By-Election - Socialists Are The Real Alternative!

April 3, 2024

On Thursday 2nd May, there will be a by-election in Bournbrook and Selly Park. Labour cuts councillor Brigid Jones resigned her seat after years of picking fights with bin and homecare workers and helping draw up the latest £300m cuts plans.

The largest ever cuts in the history of local government are set to include:

  • At least 600 job cuts
  • Bin collections reduced to fortnightly
  • Closure of 25 out of 35 local libraries
  • Homecare service and day centres for vulnerable adults run down
  • 50% cuts to youth services and special needs transport
  • Arts funding removed completely, after the MAC already lost its council grant

And we’ll be paying more for it, with council tax set to increase by 21% over two years! This comes on top of years where wages have covered less and less of the spiralling cost of bills, food, rent and other essentials.

During the last 12 years, the Labour Council in Birmingham has already cut over £820 million from our services. They've robbed over 13,000 jobs from our city, closed 43 youth centres, 12 nurseries, 21 children's centres, 5 children's homes, 4 libraries and countless community and leisure facilities.

Long-term residents of Selly Oak and students alike have suffered from the Tory government and Labour council, who lack the will to tackle cowboy landlords. Further cuts will mean even less is done to stop unfit homes and flytipping!

Meanwhile the lack of response from all main parties to the mass protests against the brutal war on Gaza is just another example of how career politicians can’t be trusted to stand up for working class people.

With thousands of people asking “who can I vote for”, local trade union activist, parent and Socialist Party member Corinthia Ward is set to stand in this by-election.

Corinthia was part of the team of campaigners in 2018-19 against cuts to council Homecare workers hours, participating in the mass canvasses of Selly Park and other leading councillors’ wards. She was also a regular fixture on picket lines during the bin strikes in 2017-19, and numerous other workers’ struggles and protests since then.

Workers in high-visibility clothing at gathering.
Corinthia visiting a picket line during the 2017 bin workers strike against the Blairite council

She commented:

Since 2010 Birmingham has lost at least £1 billion in funding. The Labour-led Council argued they had to carry out cuts to prevent any commissioners from coming in…Well, they did the dirty work for the Tories and the commissioners have still shown up!

The reality is our city cannot just wait for a Starmer Government. Only last month, Starmer said he cannot “turn on the taps” for local government funding and there is “no magic money tree”, with no pledge to reverse cuts to councils. We’ve heard this since Cameron’s government and all who followed.

Yet when Covid happened they found the magic money tree to protect their friends and cronies. The UK has 171 billionaires with a combined wealth of £684 billion - there is vast wealth in our society but we need political representatives who are prepared to fight for it.

Bournbrook and Selly Park is the only council ward election this year due to Blairite Brigid Jones stepping down from a council crisis she helped make. The rest of Birmingham isn’t set to vote for their local representative until 2026!

The seven commissioners have said they may be supervising the Labour council’s austerity plans for a further five years – on £1000-plus per day each! But so far councillors have only decided the headlines of how much they want to cut over the next two years, and not the detail of which libraries, youth centres and other key services will close. There is still time to build mass opposition to attacks on jobs and services – but it has to start now!

This election can be used as a platform to build a campaign linking local trade union branches, council workers, community campaign groups and students to co-ordinated action across Bournbrook & Selly Park and into the wider Birmingham community.

Group demonstrating with Socialist Party placards.
Corinthia on the Black Lives Matter 2020 demonstration

The Tory party is weak and divided, any serious pressure would strain the already existing cracks and force them to make concessions. The crisis in local government is not isolated to Birmingham - imagine if our Birmingham councillors took the lead for a national campaign to demand funding straight to Downing Street.

The election of a socialist councillor can help raise the confidence of Birmingham workers and residents alike to demand a better future for our city. We need a workers’ candidate on an anti-cuts and anti-war programme who will stand up to the commissioners, careerist councillors and austerity-driven central government - no matter what colour rosette they wear!

Socialist Party members will be out campaigning between now and polling day to let people in Selly Park know that they don’t have to waste their vote on the same old establishment parties. If you can help leaflet, canvass or donate to the campaign, get in touch!

And come to our public meeting to hear more about why we're standing and how you can be part of building a socialist fightback in Brum:

7pm, Monday 29th April

Bournbrook & Selly Oak Social Club

13A Hubert Rd

Birmingham 

B29 6DX

Last of all, can you spare a donation to help us get the word out that people in Bournbrook and Selly Park don't have to waste their vote on the same old establishment parties? We don't have any big business backers, so all amounts great and small are gratefully appreciated:

Promoted by Nick Hart (agent) at 342 Highfield Lane Birmingham B32 1SD on behalf of Corinthia Ward

Written by workers for workers.

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