A Solihull resident for over 20 years, and campaigner and activist for many more, Ade shares the key local issues that he will focus on as your Lib Dem MP.
1. I care about Solihull
I have been lucky to meet so many local residents, across all parts of our constituency, over the years. Some politicians only want to focus on the ‘big issues’ or their ‘pet projects’. Not me! It’s the little things that make a difference to people’s lives. We cannot ignore those, and that’s not the kind of MP I’d be.
2. Keeping our hospital
Many of you will have seen me campaigning to stop the closure of Ward 10 at Solihull Hospital. I fought for the ambulance station too. I’ve spent decades speaking up for proper resources and healthcare provision here in our town and borough. Me and my campaign team ensured that better services were put in place when Ward 10 eventually closed. And we saved the ambulances! I’m proud of that. That’s the kind of track record I have in fighting for a healthy Solihull.
3. Sorting out sustainable transport
Our services are not very joined up – our railway stations and our bus routes need to be better thought through. Big companies are deciding what they think is right for them – and they are forgetting about local residents and their needs! That is not right. I fought hard when the no.37 bus was rerouted. I’m going to keep speaking up, to get transport bosses round the table. Traffic is just not getting any better – it’s becoming unsustainable. We need innovative and environmentally suitable solutions. That’s my job to work on.
4. We need more houses – of the right kind
Our young people can’t afford to live here, and we are losing them to other parts of the country. All that talent! And it means that people who are key to top-class public services here in Solihull – carers, nurses, teaching assistants, teachers, police officers – are struggling to manage. I’ve been a civil engineer all my career. I know exactly what housing developers think and what they want (financially...) out of their investments. My way of going about this is supported by a Lib Dem policy I’m proud to get behind: if developers won’t build houses, we will... And: we won’t do that at the expense of our prized green spaces, because our environment matters.
5. We are as international as we are local
What fantastic major export businesses we have here in Solihull! Our trade with Europe and elsewhere in the world is what makes us stand out. There are a number of risks and challenges which are coming down the line in the next few years. We’ve got to fight for the right deal. And what I mean by that is not just giving one or two national decision-makers carte blanche. Solihull has great negotiators, Solihull has really specific and important issues to take into account as the UK establishes new international trade deals as we leave the EU. I won’t let the wrong deal or a no deal situation risk so many lives, jobs, and livelihoods.
6. Our great schools deserve decent funding
I am proud to have pledged my support to the Fair Funding for All Solihull Schools campaign. I have been working alongside them for a while now – I even brought the leader of the Lib Dems here to Solihull to meet with them and get his backing for their campaign too. What does this actually mean? It means fighting cuts tooth and nail! Solihull has ended up in a group of local authorities who are in the bottom quartile for schools funding. While it is admirable that that this ‘f40’ group tries its best to find ways to keep funds in our schools, it’s clearly not good enough. I’ve spoken to head teachers and they have got some horrible decisions to make this summer around staff cuts, per pupil spending, and stripping back SEN support. Basically there isn’t enough money, especially for our primary schools. It’s completely wrong – we’re giving our children the wrong start in life. I want to give them the best start (which is why I’d also make sure we keep school lunches!).
7. Our green spaces need looking after
Climate change is real. We sometimes might not feel it as we go about our daily lives in Solihull, but air pollution is starting to become something we simply cannot ignore. Couple that with the need to look after green spaces while balancing the needs of our residents, and we have in a nutshell one of the biggest challenges facing Solihull. My approach to this draws on my technical training – I want Solihull to be leading the way with innovative green solutions that make things better for us and our environment. (Greener solutions also make the local economy better too).
8. Crime cannot keep going up
Why have we seen more policing cuts? It’s completely mad. Shirley police station has been closed – one of the most visible and useful policing units in our borough. I fought so hard to try to keep it open – I want to fight again to get services reinstated. I talk to our police officers here in the borough. They are having to do so much more with far fewer resources. Like our nurses and teachers, they are reaching breaking point. And our town is suffering. We need more police officers, and I will fight for that. I get so distressed when I receive calls and emails from residents about violent crime or antisocial behaviour (particularly around those disrespectful enough to ride motorbikes and drive vehicles in ways and places that are dangerous and harmful). Let me be the one to fight this!
9. Business owners need a voice in Westminster
We talk a lot about schools and homes and green spaces here in Solihull, and we often talk about the ‘big’ businesses that have made their base here in Solihull. But local and smaller business owners get ignored, and that is not right. They are the lifeblood of our economy. It is where innovation and investment comes from. We are rightly known for having an important ‘tech corridor’ here in Solihull. And we want to support start-up businesses to drive economic growth. Challenging times lie ahead financially, and we can’t let our local businesses suffer. I want to make sure your voices are heard in Westminster, because all too often it is only the mega businesses who have any sway (because they have the money...). We need fairer support for all our businesses.
10. We should not be penalised for growing old
Our current population in Solihull is tilted more towards those who are older than those who are younger (because the young can’t afford to live here). It means we have a social care time-bomb. The solution is not a ‘dementia’ tax. That thought fills me with dread. People losing vast sums of money just because they were unlucky enough to be the wrong kind of ill, or the wrong kind of old. It is so mean-spirited. To get our social care support right, we need not to be penalising our older residents – we won’t go after your homes! We have to join up services, and get really impressive community provision up and running – that means a health and social care policy that is honest (the Lib Dems’ modest 1p tax ring-fenced for the NHS and social care has been praised by independent financial and fiscal studies).