Hustings – 2018

Hustings, like Christmas for people with no souls. This is a bit of a landmark hustings, a new ward and the last Council hustings for a few years as we move to a four-yearly cycle. Which means that for people like us this is the last Christmas in years. Unless Theresa May’s hapless Government falls over.

This year there was a podium, it was a nice touch.


Having finally ditched Kings Heath it also means that we’re back to David Isgrove chairing the meeting. As always that means we get a bonus candidate.


Because it’s an all-out election each party had the chance to put up two candidates. Which was a terrifying prospect. We had two from Labour and the Lib Dems and one Conservative. The Green candidate couldn’t make it because she was elsewhere, I’m not convinced that’s an excuse as everyone who wasn’t there was elsewhere. The other Conservative candidate couldn’t make it because he was sitting in the audience, which was odd.


With three minutes each on why we should vote for them, this is largely what they said.


David Farrow (Liberal Democrats) – Gave a nice thanks to the existing Councillors and told us he works for Aston University. Seven minutes into the whole event and David gave support for the Moseley station. This is outstanding. Most candidates have the decorum to wait until at least 8 before they bring it up, but David was straight in there. He also wants to increase recycling, have visible policing and celebrate vibrant parks. Don’t we all? He also thinks that the Labour candidates will win in this election. Which sort of wastes all our time.


Kerry Jenkins (Labour) – Was born in Jersey and brought up in Moseley. If you don’t know her now then you soon will. I assume she didn’t mean this to sound quite as threatening as it did. She made the obligatory, and still quite amazing, point that Birmingham has had over £650m taken out of its budget by the Government. Labour also has a local manifesto, I’ve not read it. She will be visible on every street. Annoyingly she didn’t go into the logistical challenges of that. I imagine it will be something to do with mirrors.


Izzy Knowles (Lib Democrats) – Is addicted to Moseley. It’s tricky to argue with that as she did have Moseley written on her T-Shirt. Everyone knows Izzy, she cleans the carpark on Sunday morning, she used to run the Moseley Forum, has something to do with the Farmers Market and saved the playing fields on Windermere Road. You can’t fault her Moseley based content at a Moseley hustings. Having said that it was a point lost on most of the candidates. Izzy does all this without us paying her to do it, will she carry on doing it if we don’t vote for her? It’s something to think about.


Dominic O’Callaghan (Conservatives) – With the demise of UKIP we all feared that our supply of comedy candidates had been cut off. Don’t worry Dominic was/is excellent value for money. I assume he came to wind us all up. He definitely made the whole thing more interesting. He’s been a diplomat and moved from New Delhi to Moseley in 2012. He hates the EU and likes Andy Street. He doesn’t trust the EU or the Labour Party but quite liked Harold Wilson. He wants to build a multi-storey carpark in Moseley and bring back the trolley buses. The City Council wastes money on trade unions and employing Chief Executives. He also used to work for David Miliband who is an idiot. At that point he dropped the mic and stormed off. That’s not a youth metaphor. He actually dropped the mic. The other Conservative candidate, John someone, was sitting in front of me whispering to everyone around him that he doesn’t agree with anything Dominic said. Which was nice.


Martin Straker Welds (Labour) – Martin’s already a Councillor for the old Moseley & Kings Heath ward, so you probably know him. He has a confusing style of asking himself a question and then answering it. He will pinpoint crime hotspots, invest in municipal socialism and ensure that nobody in Moseley will be harmed by leaving the EU. He doesn’t lack for bold claims.


Then there were questions. As always everyone has to say where they live in case people from Kings Health or Stirchley sneak in.


The first questions was from someone who lives on Cotton Lane. That got a cheer. It’s a popular road.


What will you do for young people? – Kerry is an ambassador for young people and Martin likes that Birmingham still has a youth service. Dominic wants to bring back Educational Maintenance Allowance. David thinks we should fight for fairer pupil funding. Izzy believes youth provision in Moseley has suffered since Centre 13 shut down and we should extend the work from All Saints in Kings Health. Izzy once again using her crafty trick of talking about Moseley at a Moseley hustings.


The highpoint of every hustings is Gillian’s question. There’s no middle ground with Gillian, it’s micro or macro, it’s the 50 Bus stop or the nuances of UN foreign policy.

What sort of housing has been built in Moseley, is it affordable?
– This wasn’t Gillian’s best question. As it turns out no affordable housing has been built in Moseley. We probably could have guessed that. Martin explained that the limited Council housing stock in Moseley had recently been ameliorated. I had to look that up and it doesn’t mean they’ve burned it down like I originally thought.


Should the West Midlands Pension fund be invested in the arms trade? – David was emphatic that ethical investment was a question of morality and should be Council Policy. Dominic said, “I suppose ethical investments are positive” and then added that getting the pension fund out of deficit is quite important. Kerry skirted over the question and told us about some other ethical things.


What are you going to do about transport to school? – This question also came from someone on Cotton Lane but didn’t get a cheer this time. We were all tired. Martin had been to a Primary School where he had seen an example of a walking bus but in tiny form. I assume that’s because children are often small. Everyone else agreed with Martin, though Dominic was worried about the safety of small children cycling.


At this point David, the Chair, couldn’t hold it in any longer and gave his detailed ideas for school transport. I didn’t write any of them down. He did suggest we should all vote for him. None of us have seen that coming for the last 15 years have we?


What are you going to do about access to recycling centres for people without access to cars? – In all the years of doing this I think that was the first sensible question anyone has ever asked. David Isgrove validated the questioner by telling us about a man he met once that had walked to a recycling centre and they didn’t let him in. Martin acknowledged that it was a problem and said he will look into. Something might actually get fixed. Although this was a great question it’s also the point where the man at the back of the audience fell asleep and snored like the very gates of hell had opened.


I’m just going to miss some questions out now.


Drugs, what are you going to do about them? – This is the Moseley we know. With some clarification, it seems the question was about stopping the drugs. This isn’t the Moseley we know. Dominic reckons there’s a pub over the road where you can get people to nick meat from Marks and Spencer’s. I assume you have to pay them. Given his apathy to the EU I think we can all guess which pub he’s been getting his sausages from. Izzy told us about the work she does with homeless people. Martin told us about the Birmingham Homelessness Strategy which is apparently a model for the whole country. As we have two men living in a tent in the carpark that sums up quite how doomed the country is.


Is it still Labour policy to leave the EU? – It was quite embarrassing to see quite how much Martin had to wriggle through that. He told us to go and read the Labour manifesto. Fair enough you can’t go to a Moseley hustings and toe the Labour line on the EU.

What are you going to do about the Prince of Wales? They’re sniffing coke and leaving glasses outside? – All candidates knew better than to answer that and developed a consensus that it would be nice to have street sweeping on a Sunday morning. Sometimes it’s best to answer other questions.


Then each candidate gave one sentence on why we should vote for them.


Martin stands for a City that’s a good place to grow up and grow old in.


Dominic wants to make Moseley matter


Izzy really likes Moseley and works hard.


Kerry is in a party of social justice, like superheroes, and thought Zack Snyder’s interpretation of Justice League wasn’t as bad as critics said.


David thinks the city is in a golden decade, but the Council is the weak link but Labour will still win.


John (other Conservative) reluctantly told us he’s lived here since 1982.


The snappy conclusion was undermined a bit by the man at the back once again falling asleep and snoring like the first lawnmower of Spring.


Who will win? They’re all probably right, nobody votes in local election on local issues, so we’ll probably have two Labour Councillors. Having said that with an all-out election and the spectre of Labours disastrous Brexit policy it’s possible that one of the Lib Dems will sneak in. The last time we had an all-out election the invasion of Iraq led to the Mullaney years.


Based on tonight Izzy deserves to get something out of it.

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