A corner of Birmingham which was once a Conservative stronghold has seen another seat turn red as Labour took a town-council by-election.
Sutton Coldfield which has always returned a Conservative MP and up until May 2012 had an all-Tory city council line up too, has seen the town council by-election go in favour of Labour’s Kath Scott.
It bucked the national trend which saw Conservatives take a number of seats from the Labour Party, including the Hartlepool Westminster by-election and also in Birmingham, with two city by-elections turning blue from red, in Oscott and Quinton.
Cllr Scott was already a city councillor having been elected as a Sutton Vesey representative in 2018. And stood as a town council candidate for the first time after Louise Passey resigned her seat earlier this year.
She won by 576 votes with 2,746 people voting Labour, 2,168 for the Conservative candidate, Frank Eperjesi, former independent town councillor, Liz Parry (Sutton Resident’s Party) in third with 691 votes, then Lib Dem Rebecca Clarke with 272, Ben Auton from the Green Party with 255 and Ivy Chiwandire from the Christian People’s Alliance with 45.
Cllr Scott was best known as a Boldmere Mums activist pushing for fair allocation of primary school places, after one of her children missed out on a place in 2012. Having campaigned on behalf of parents in Boldmere, the mum-of-two decided to stand three-years-ago as a Labour city councillor.
And now she has become the town’s fourth ‘twin-hatted’ councillor representing Sutton on both the city and town authorities.
Of her role as a city representative, Cllr Scott said: “In all honesty it’s the best job I have ever had in my life. I love it. I know and I feel every time when I speak to a resident, especially with the children’s stuff, it’s making a difference.
“It’s a privilege to be in that position to try and say to people, ‘I can see where you’re coming from and I will try and fix that issue’.”
The 50-year-old has pledged to bring that ethos to the town council. She was a backbencher for a year at city level and has since 2019 has chaired the authority’s education and children’s social care scrutiny committee holding the council’s cabinet to account.
She said her ‘confidence grew’ after becoming a city councillor and that drove her to stand for the town council spot.
Cllr Scott said: “People on Vesey haven’t been receiving what they want in the ward. They want better services in the park, better access, more community action. More services drilled down in to the area.
“Take the car park upgrade at Boldmere Gate. The town council basically voted it down and that flies in the face of what people want.
“We are proud of where we live and I am going to fight for people. We need more voices doing so.”
Asked what she would change about the town council, Cllr Scott said: “First and foremost I think they have squirrelled away far too much money in the bank.
“We pay that money in good faith and I don’t feel that that’s happened.
“I’d like to see more help for community groups, community interest companies and organisations should get funding year-on-year and get assessed on how they have spent it. Money for food banks. And delivering on children’s and youth services.
“I love where I live and I invest in it with my time.”
She added: “I’d like to see help for low income families, improvements in Sutton Park, a business start-up fund and help for the town centre economy.
“We pay the precept so we can get these services back.
“I’m not afraid to speak my mind if I think something is right I will say so.
“The best way to walk in all walks of life is to listen to one another, understand why things aren’t going through and find collaborative ways to make things happen for the good of the local residents we are serving.”
Cllr Simon Ward, the Conservative leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council said: “Frank Eperjesi fought a very strong and positive campaign and got a very creditable result given he was against an incumbent city councillor.
“That will stand him in good stead and I am looking to fighting that ward with him next year.
“In Kath I hope she will act as a town councillor and not as a Birmingham City Councillor on the town council. And I hope she will be constructive across the town.”