Life expectancy at Solihull a top priority for Tory, who was once a Labor leader

The ten-year life expectancy deficit in the northern part of Solihull in relation to the south is a major problem that the candidates for next week’s local elections will seek to address. Councilor David Cole hopes he can do the ‘very best’ for people living in his ward in Kingshurst and Fordbridge through better education and job opportunities.

Campaigns for other topics such as transport and highway safety are priorities for Cllr Cole, but perhaps his biggest challenge will be to restore confidence in his congregation after leaving his position as leader of the Solihull Labor Party and joining the Conservatives in 2021.

Cllr Cole, along with the only remaining Labor member Cllr Marcus Brain, ran off to the Tories and Greens, respectively, leaving Labor without representation in the borough for the first time in decades. He now faces the task of convincing voters in his ward to vote for a Conservative city councilor next month – something they have not done in over ten years.

READ MORE: All candidates running in the local elections in Solihull in 2022

Cllr Cole began his life in local politics 16 years ago in Kingshurst Parish Council, where he was president for ten years. He was then persuaded to run for councilor in the last local elections in 2018 and comfortably won his mandate with 47 percent of the vote.

However, the controversy hit in October 2021, when Cllr Cole left the Labor Party somewhat sensational, citing a lack of support as the main reason for his departure. He said: “A little over 12 months ago I thought the support from Labor to support former councilor Flo Nash was pretty bad. I said at the time that I would have better support, otherwise I would consider my position and they knew well that I needed support.

“There were many occasions where we arranged to get people to go out and knock on the door and make leaflets, and people did not show up. On many occasions I did it on my own. I discussed this with my colleagues in the council and decided to switch to a progressive party that would support me. “

Cllr Cole got into why he felt more comfortable with the Tories as opposed to the Greens, without going into a lot of detail. “I’m not really happy with green politics – I’m more happy with conservative politics. They have supported me quite well, I have not changed my convictions,” he said.

Now a great-grandfather, Cllr Cole and his wife have lived in Kingshurst for 40 years. His house is located in what he referred to as the ‘center of the spider’s web’, when looking at the Kingshurst area, and he places a lot of stocks in councilors who live locally in the area they represent.

“I think it’s a priority,” he said. “I would like the law to actually be changed so that only the locals can represent the locals in local branches. I am convinced that city councilors should live near the ward they are to represent.

“When I go out, people know me. I get stopped in Morrisons, I get stopped in Asda, and I do not mind because I am a local person who represents the locals.”

At the top of Cllr Cole’s agenda is transportation and highway safety. During his time in the council, he has fought passionately to restore bus connections in his local area.

“I managed to save the bus connections Kingshurst and Fordbridge about two years ago. Some bus adjustments meant that these areas lost their direct route to Birmingham and to Solihull, and when I became a city councilor, I made it my life’s job to have these buses restored. I got the 71 back through Kingshurst and the X12 connecting Kingshurst and Fordbridge with Birmingham and Solihull, so it was a win-win situation there. ”

Education is also a priority for the councilor, who says it is ‘at the very top’ of his list. As governor of both Kingshurst Primary School and Tudor Grange Academy Kingshurst, Cllr Cole seeks to do the ‘very best for all children’ in his ward.

Also in the Kingshurst Medical Practice PPG group, public health is a major issue for Cllr Cole and people living in the area, as life expectancy is a decade lower in the northern part of Solihull compared to the southern part.

“We do not have a very good list of people who live as long as they do in the south. I am very aware of that and do everything I can to improve people’s lifestyles – get them jobs, get one good education so that it improves their lifespan in life. ”

As for his own lifetime in the council, Cllr Cole will hope that people in his area can put party politics aside and vote for what he has done in the ward. He won his seat under the Labor banner in 2018, but Kingshurst and Fordbridge have formally been a happy hunting ground for UKIP candidates, so it will be interesting to see which way voters turn this time around.

His task of convincing potential voters could also have been easier without the series of scandals that his new party has been involved in at the national level lately.

Asked if national politics had come up the doorstep, Cllr Cole said: “Oddly enough, no – absolutely not. People are really focused on local issues and I’m really happy about that. National governments can do what they want, but “People have to survive with how things are at the moment. Local problems are top notch.”

He summed up his chances next month and continued: “Kingshurst and Fordbridge are really a marginal place. You have to put in a lot of work to win. It can go both ways, but I will do my best shot.”

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