In the latest in our series of General Election profiles, the Solihull News speaks to Simon Slater - the Liberal Democrat candidate in Meriden.
SIMON Slater is no stranger to politics - four years ago he became the borough’s youngest councillor.
He’s up for re-election this year, but he will also be fighting a General Election campaign in the Meriden constituency.
“I think it’s important that people realise that the Lib Dems are offering a real alternative, at a time when the other two parties are becoming more and more alike,” he said.
“You see a lot of the Labour and Tory supporters are getting disillusioned with how things have gone. The parties are moving away from their core voters and trying to win over a few 100,000 people in just a few marginal seats.”
He feels that it was the Tories “taking votes for granted” which lost them the Solihull seat in 2005 and hopes the Lib Dems will also gain ground in Meriden.
It was just after Lorely Burt’s victory that Simon joined the party and got involved in local issues.
The former Alderbrook School pupil had studied politics at university and is now coming to the end of his PhD - though he doubts he’s going to do much studying in the coming months.
In 2006 he was asked to stand in the Shirley ward and was elected to Solihull Council at just 24-years-old.
“I think what I’ve learned from being a councillor is that it can be difficult to get things done,” he explains.
“Because so much power has gone to central Government and quangos, there’s always lot of work in getting even the simplest jobs done.
“This is why I think there’s an awful lot of apathy among people, they don’t feel that they can make a difference.”
Simon says that he would like to see wide-spread electoral reform - proportional representation and more powers devolved to local government.
In his home town he thinks that more could be done to reduce the gap between rich and poor.
And he wants to see the Lib Dems continue their momentum at Westminster and on Solihull Council.
“When I was elected, we had 15 councillors.
“We’ve now got 18. Our MPs have also increased dramatically, so it’s important we keep building support.
“All eyes are going to be on Solihull as a marginal seat, but we’re going to be campaigning hard in Meriden as well - we don’t want the Tories to feel complacent.”
Simon lives in Damsonwood and away from politics he enjoys tennis.