General election 2024 candidate Alex Ballinger outlines his vision for Labour

Labour’s candidate for the general election in Halesowen says he will fight to bring Midlands Metro trams to the town. Alex Ballinger, a 41-year-old former Royal Marine, believes better transport links will be a key part of regeneration for the town centre.

The man aiming to overturn a 12,000 Conservative majority in the constituency, which has seen boundary changes since the 2019 election, outlined how he would drive growth in Halesowen. Mr Ballinger said: “There is a lot of work that needs to happen, feasibility studies can be taken but if we could get a tram link into Halesowen this is something that I would be fighting hard for.”

He also welcomed new Labour mayor Richard Parker’s plans to take buses back into public ownership which he believes would create opportunities to save uneconomic routes to bring people into town centres. Mr Ballinger added: “There are lots of retired and disabled people in our town who are disappointed that some of the routes around the constituency have been closed.”

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Labour’s new man in Halesowen, who is now the boss of a mental health charity, says regeneration and economic growth are key priorities for him. He said: “We welcome all investment in the town centre, I think despite efforts the council is making you just have to see with your own eyes the number of empty units there are throughout the town.

“We need additional effort, some new thinking and Labour’s plan to reform business rates so we favour brick and mortar businesses, so they have a little bit of an edge over big internet companies, is going to help shops on our high streets.” He is also a big fan of protecting the green belt, where he goes running around his Halesowen home, from development for housing.

Mr Ballinger said: “The local Labour team is committed to protecting that green space. “There are enough brownfield sites, certainly the grey belt area that could be used, we will be opposing any plans to build houses on the green belt.

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“The people I speak to on the doorstep are very clear that they love the countryside around here so I will do whatever is in my power to protect the countryside that we have.” Despite his commitment, Mr Ballinger would not reveal whether he would vote against legislation from a future Labour government to help councils remove land from greenbelt for building.

Mr Ballinger said: “I’d have to look at the legislation – this is a hypothetical question.” He is also confident the cost of some of his priorities, including improvements to education and more NHS and police staff, do not necessarily mean higher taxes or more borrowing.

Mr Ballinger said: “I don’t believe we need to raise taxes or increase borrowing, what we need to focus on is growing the economy and that is all about economic security and stability. “The challenges we have faced over the last few years have caused chaos in the UK economy.

“Having more stability and giving businesses and international partners more understanding of what we are doing will put us on a footing that will move us in the right direction.”

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