THE POLITICAL battle for Solihull – both locally and nationally – is hotter than ever.
And last week’s election saw punches thrown to the Labour and Lib Dem camps in the borough and surprise victories for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and the Green Party – the latter of which is now the main opposition on the council.
In the weeks leading up to the borough elections the fight between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives stepped up a gear as Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrats Deputy Prime Minister and Business secretary Nick Clegg Doctor Vince Cable paid a visit to Solihull in a bid to secure votes for their local and European election candidates.
The Conservatives came out on top in this round as Annette MacKenzie not only boosted the security of the Conservative majority on Solihull Council, but she also pipped the now-former Solihull Lib Dem leader Ian Hedley to the post in Shirley East.
Speaking to The Observer this week a gracious Mr Hedley said he believes the Liberal Democrats has done really well in the elections as they managed to keep three of the four seats they already held.
He added: “That’s the way of politics – you win some and you lose some.
“On a national level the Lib Dem results was patchy we did well in some local elections but we lost the our EU seat.
“It’s not all doom and gloom we shouldn’t be despondent as it is the clear momentum is swinging the other way at the moment.”
Mr Hedley said Coun John Windmill will take on the role as leader of Solihull Liberal Democrats.
Headline grabbing UKIP re-entered the fight for Solihull after a six year break – and this time round nine candidates were put forward for the 17 seats on offer.
They made the highest profile gain with Debbie Evans taking the Kingshurst and Fordbridge seat by 309 votes from former Government minister and Solihull Labour leader David Jamieson.
Mr Jamieson told The Observer he was sad to have lost his seat and was sorry the other three seats were lost – but has high hopes Coun Flo Nash and Coun Alan Nash will continue to petition the Labour party’s policies.
The 67-year-old added: “That is the way it goes – we enter the elections and we either win them or lose them.
“I will now enjoy retirement, I have already retired once but this time I mean it – before I stood in this election I said this would be the last time I stand.
“I first stood in 1969 for Solihull Council which is quite a long time – not as long as Councillor Windmill – but still my retirement has been a long time coming.
“I want to wish everybody well, and although I will not part of deliberation I will be out and about and around.
“I want to see the economy grow, and the number of jobs grow both of which I have campaigned for in the borough.”
Mr Jamieson revealed he didn’t know who would take over as leader of Solihull Labour Party but speculated there could be scope for a joint leadership.
Meanwhile Solihull’s Green Party followed the national trend and gained three seats in the borough – making them the official opposition for the first time.
Coun Chris Williams (Chelmsley Wood) said the Green Party will be working harder than ever to make sure the people’s voice is heard loud and clear inside the Council Chamber in their new position in the Council.
In the latest fight for Solihull Liberal Democrat Ian Hedley lost his Shirley East seat to the Conservatives.