May 7 2010 Eliot Mullett
LABOUR and the Liberal Democrats will have “serious talks” about creating a coalition to take overall power of Solihull Council away from the Conservatives.
In a disappointing day for the Tories they lost two further seats while Labour gained two and Lib Dems one.
Bucking the national trend, Labour gained the Kingshurst & Fordbridge and Chelmsley Wood wards, taking them off the Conservatives and BNP respectively.
The Conservatives were hoping to gain extra seats and reclaim an overall majority but their failure to do so means there is still no overall control at Solihull Council.
The Conservatives have 23 of the council’s 51 seats (26 or more are needed for an overall majority), Liberal Democrats have 19, Labour seven, Green Party one and an Independent has one other.
If Labour and the Lib Dems were to join forces they would have a combined total of 26 seats - the exact number of seats needed for a majority.
The biggest shock of the day occurred in Elmdon where cabinet member Ken Hawkins (Con) was defeated by the Lib Dem’s Martin Hewings by 128 votes.
“We’ve worked very hard over many years to get this far,” said Mr Hewings. “It’s a wonderful result for us.”
“There’s a strong team that serves Elmdon well here and I’m happy to be part of it.
“Many people are inspired by Lorely (Burt, Solihull MP) and last night (Thursday) was a magnificent result for her.
“She’s a very inspiring person and everyone who works in the Lib Dems would say the same - she inspired me to get involved.”
On the issue of joining forces with Labour, Mr Hewings added: “It’s reasonable to think about these things but we’ll take it one step at a time - I’m still in shock at getting elected.”
One of the Labour gains was made in Kingshurst and Fordbridge where David Jamieson uprooted Rob Hall (Con) by a slim margin of 110 votes.
He was also supportive of a Labour-Lib Dem coalition.
“It had occurred to us yes - we’ll be having serious talks about it, I’m sure of that,” he said.
“The Tories have lost their majority (on the council). The General Election shows that they have not made the breakthrough they desired nationally neither. They’re short in the country and they’re short in Solihull.
“Our desire now is to form an administration which reflects the needs and wishes of local people in Solihull.”
Elsewhere, Lib Dem leader Ian Hedley held onto his seat in Shirley East while Conservative cabinet members Ian Courts (Economic Development and Regeneration) and Diana Holl-Allen (Safer Communities) held onto theirs.
And Trevor Eames - the former councillor who served four-and-a-half years for setting fire to his wife in 1997 - failed in his bid to take the Shirley South seat, which was won by Andy Hodgson (Lib Dem).