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Conservatives retain control of Solihull but the day belongs to the Greens and Independents

THE Conservatives have retained control of Solihull Council but it was the smaller parties who had most to smile about in the borough after the local elections.

sw 19 chris williams

THE Conservatives have retained control of Solihull Council but it was the smaller parties who had most to smile about in the borough after the local elections.

The Tories lost two seats in Blythe and Kingshurst & Fordbridge, but gained Shirley East from the Lib Dems to secure a reduced majority of 28 seats while there were gains for the Greens and the Independent Residents and Ratepayers.

However members of all parties said they were disappointed by a pathetic turn-out and sense of apathy among voters.

The sense of distrust, combined with dismal weather conditions on Thursday, saw the turn-out slump to scarcely more than 30 per cent in some wards.

But it was the Green Party's day - they successfully defended two seats and gained another from Labour bringing their number of councillors to five.

Chris Williams, who took the Chelmsley Wood seat from Labour, said: "It's a vote against the loss of green space.

"It's the first time we have gained three seats in the borough. It's a record result.

"We have received the highest ever number of votes even though its been the lowest turn out in ten years while the

Conservatives have scraped through."

There was also a shock result in Blythe, where the Independent Ratepayers and Residents candidate Linda Brown unseated the Tories' Martin McCarthy.

Linda Brown said: "It's three years hard work. We're not a brand like the Tories, it's down to the individual person.

"I have never even seen the councillor who had this seat. It's just not good enough.

"You have to respect what the people want, it's not about you or just sticking to party lines.

"I'm not political, that's why I'm an Independent. I'm just here for the people. It's been a long time since anyone has just been there on behalf of the people."

Councillor Ken Hawkins (Con, Blythe) said: "The turn-out is very disappointing. Seven out of ten people did not vote.

"All parties have now got to get their act together and engage with people."

Labour leader Coun David Jamieson said his party had seen off the Tories in Kingshurst & Fordbridge, but suffered a backlash against regeneration in Chelmsley Wood.

"People have voiced their anger about the parts of regeneration they don't like, like the loss of green space, and we've taken the rap for that," he said.

"Nationally were very pleased with the result. If there was a General Election today we would win a majority. But of course there are still three years to go."

Coun Ian Hedley, leader of the Lib Dem group, said his party would continue to face up to the challenges.

"I think in 2015, at the end of the five year term, we will see if our message has got through to the country."

Coun Ken Meeson (Con, Dorridge & Hockley Heath), who remains council leader, said: "We have had a difficult budget and we will need to find even more savings in the next year.

" hope because of the savings we will have made, we will be in a better position by the elections in 2015."

The new make-up of the council is: Con: 28 (-1), Lib Dem: 11 (-1), Labour: 6, Green: 5 (+1), Ind Residents: (+1)



Cathrina Hulse
Multimedia Journalist
Annette Belcher
Multimedia Journalist
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