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Our top ten list of seats to watch at the Birmingham city council elections

Our top ten list of seats to watch at the Birmingham city council elections

🕔06.May 2015

Most attention in the political world is focused naturally enough on the General Election. But voters in Birmingham will also be choosing city councillors on May 7. Chamberlain Files chief blogger Paul Dale names his 10 seats to watch in a contest made all the more unpredictable by the rise of UKIP.

Shard End

If UKIP are going to win anywhere in Birmingham, this is the most likely location.

The sprawl of white working class housing estates where unemployment is above average and job prospects are low is prime recruiting ground for Nigel Farage’s right wing party. A year ago UKIP candidate Iain Roden sent shock waves through the Labour establishment when he came within 37 votes of beating cabinet member John Cotton.

This year, an even bigger scalp could fall to UKIP if Mr Roden is successful. Deputy council leader Ian Ward, who is up for re-election, has candidly admitted he is fighting a marginal seat – something that was unthinkable in Shard End until recently.

Ward, 20 years a Labour councillor, fears UKIP’s support will be strengthened by having the General Election on the same day as the local elections. The impact on the controlling Labour group would be severe if Ward loses. Sir Albert Bore is already facing a challenge to his leadership and the last thing he would want is to lose a loyal deputy.

Acocks Green

Labour cabinet member Stewart Stacey stormed to victory here in 2011, defeating Liberal Democrat councillor Penny Wagg with a 15 per cent swing. However, last year the Lib Dems were back in the shape of Roger Harmer who easily beat Labour candidate Rachel Seabright.

Stacey has had something of a chequered career on the council dating back to 1982. His 24 years of service having been spread across several different wards. He faces a tough challenge in Acocks Green, which has been pretty safe Lib Dem territory in recent years.

He’s up against former Lib Dem councillor Penny Wagg in a crowded field of seven candidates.


There’s another Labour cabinet member at risk here. James McKay triumphed in this traditionally safe Tory ward in 2011, beating Geoff Hewitt by 584 votes, but is fighting against a strong Conservative campaign.

The Conservative candidate on this occasion is former councillor Jane James. She will take some comfort from last year’s Harborne result which saw Tory John Alden beat Labour’s Nabila Zulfiqar by 298 votes.


Labour came so close to taking a seat from the Tories here in 2011. Former councillor Dennis Minnis managed to secure a 14 per cent increase in the Labour share of the vote, but narrowly failed to beat veteran Tory councillor James Hutchings who clung on by 21 votes.

Following Cllr Hutchings’ retirement the Tories have selected Matt Bennett, a former councillor who for a while was executive member for education under the former tory-Lib Dem coalition. Bennett has been in place as prospective candidate and shadowing Hutchings for over a year, so the Tories are clearly leaving nothing to chance.

Last year Fergus Robinson held on for the Tories with a majority of 174 over Labour’s Robbie Lea-Trengrouse.

The Labour candidate this time is Tom Keeley.


Unlikely as it may have seemed five or six years ago, the Tories already have two councillors in this predominantly white working class ward and are aiming to make it three out of three.

The Conservative candidate, Andy Rudge, is up against former Labour group secretary Des Hughes who lost here last year to Tory Ron Storer by 32 votes in a three-way tussle with UKIP’s Jan Higgins who ended up only 450 votes short of winning. This is probably UKIP’s second best chance of gaining a seat in Birmingham after Shard End.

Kings Norton

Labour cabinet member Steve Bedser lost here last year to Tory Simon Jevon in a contest that again turned into a three-way tussle for votes with UKIP.

This time Labour’s Peter Griffiths is standing for re-election against former Tory councillor Barbara Wood and UKIP’s Timothy Plumbe.


Labour’s Ian Cruise scraped home here in 2014, beating Tory candidate Derek Johnson by 71 votes with UKIP’s Steven Brookes close behind in third place.

Andy Cartwright for Labour is standing for re-election against Daniel Caldicott for the Conservatives and Kevin Morris for UKIP.

Selly Oak

Another cabinet member could be at risk here if Labour have a very bad year. Brigid Jones had a whopping 1,212 majority in 2011 but will have looked nervously at last year’s result which saw Labour’s Changese Khan scrape through against Lib Dem David Radcliffe by 75 votes.

South Yardley

Labour’s Nawaz Ali won in 2011 beating Lib Dem David Osborne by 195 votes. Last year Labour’s Kate Booth lost by 166 votes to Lib Dem Zaker Choudhry. Ali is up against former Lib Dem councillor Daphne Gaved this time.

Perry Barr

There could surely be no doubt about Liberal Democrat group deputy leader John Hunt being re-elected, could there? Almost certainly not, but it should be noted that Labour has been snapping at the Lib Dem heels here, having lost by 159 votes last year.

If it is going to be a bad election for the Lib Dems, keep an eye on this ward.

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