I went to Birmingham neighbourhood where residents are begging for the same change

-Credit: (Image: Husna Anjum)
-Credit: (Image: Husna Anjum)


Kingstanding is on the cusp of a major by-election after the shock resignation of their Conservative candidate. After Cllr Rick Payne's suspension following his offensive tweets scandal, thousands of residents will line up at polling stations today to choose between six eager parties.

Before they cast their ballots however, I decided to pay a visit to Kingstanding Circle to ask locals what they hope a new councillor will bring to the area. Before they even opened their mouths you could hear the change in the air.

The roaring sounds of smashed stone boomed as Kingstanding Shopping Centre was being demolished - a key transformation as the retail space was the heart of the community and is soon to be replaced by a massive Lidl, which still splits opinion.

Read more: I visited Birmingham community where shop owners are worried for the future

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But the major issue for most in the area can easily be heard too. The blare of car horns and screeching tyres signal one of the biggest changes residents in the area are screaming for - better traffic management of Kingstanding Circle where racers and reckless drivers speed up and down terrifying the elderly.

Voters will have their say tomorrow on May 30 between 7am and 10pm. Until then, here is a sneak peak of what issues locals will be putting to their new councillor.

Kingstanding Shopping Centre, now boarded up for demolition -Credit:Husna Anjum
Kingstanding Shopping Centre, now boarded up for demolition -Credit:Husna Anjum

Roads

Pensioner Derek Knight, 80, who will be voting, said: "Apart from the Kingstanding Shopping Centre which I wanted demolished, motorbikes come up around the circle and do in excess 70-75mph.

"When you have kids and people on pavements, it's usually younger ones using the road like a race track. I have got grandchildren and I dread them getting to the end of the footpath in case something comes down.

"You have to stop and look that nothing is coming down, it's health and safety. As a pensioner I am quite mobile but some people aren't who walk up here with their shopping trolleys.

"There has to be some legislation to stop them coming at that speed, maybe speed bumps." He added: "I've wanted Kingstanding Shopping Centre demolished for years, it was decent shopping centre first but it got worse and worse.

"I'm all for a new Lidl and it will be a benefit to the community. It will also encourage people to use the local shops opposite as well."

Matthew Lumbard, 35, who will not be voting tomorrow, said: "A lot of potholes need fixing and there is a lot of disrepair on the roads, grass verges have not been cut which causes visual problems when driving. This road has a speeding problem where people use it as a race track at night.

"You do worry somebody will fly down here and crash into your car or property." Indeed a car did go flying into a local's front garden on January 15 thanks to reckless driving, speeding a common complaint amongst Kingstanding residents.

Crime

Robert Valentine, 64, lives in another house just next to the shopping centre. He revealed his pressing issue: "Policing, there is a load of trouble here all the time and nobody seems to do anything about it."

Pensioner Derek Knight, 80, who will be voting -Credit:Husna Anjum
Pensioner Derek Knight, 80, who will be voting -Credit:Husna Anjum

He laughed saying he would not be voting, and added: "I am glad the demolition is happening and it will be better than what it was. The only issue is parking and we don't know if they will put double yellow lines here.

"There are not a lot of issues but I want more police walking around as a deterrent because it makes people feel safer. My Mrs won't go out at night time."

Youth support

Abigail Lewis, 26, has just come back to Kingstanding after moving away. She believes young people need the most support. Choosing not to vote, she said: "There are a lot of young people masked up and you never know what's gonna happen. I've had people ask me 'do you smoke or take drugs?' It is not nice.

"When you speak to shop keepers however they are friendly and helpful, the neighbours and everyone are lovely around here. It is just the youth, instead of more shops, put up more buildings where young people can box instead of carry a knife.

"A lot has changed here. The pub needed to go a long time ago and the shopping centre, I used to love the pick and mix down there. As long as it (Lidl) can bring the community together so people are not arguing or getting drunk outside it, I am happy for that.

"There are a lot of single parents with children and a Lidl there will be easier to get to than driving to Asda. You don't want to be a pensioner and not feel safe in an area taken over by people my age."

Kingstanding Road, Kingstanding -Credit:Husna Anjum
Kingstanding Road, Kingstanding -Credit:Husna Anjum

Kate, who will be voting, said: "There were a lot of lumps and bumps on the road but Labour sorted that issue. Oh yeah I will be voting." When asked what issues she wanted sorting, she frankly said: "I don't know, I am quite content at the moment.

"Let's put it this way would it make any difference if we vote or not? Will things change? They say they do but nine times out of ten it doesn't whether it's Labour, Liberal or Conservative."

Voters can go to the polls tomorrow, May 30 between 7am and 10pm. The full list of all the candidates are:

  • Lucy Hayward - Liberal Democrats

  • Pete Higgins - Workers Party Birmingham

  • Patrick Christopher Lee - Green Party

  • Kris O’Sullivan - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

  • Naz Rasheed - Labour Party

  • Clifton Frederick Welch - Local Conservatives

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