ADE ADEYAMO is a man on a mission.
The leader of Solihull Liberal Democrats group fears the borough’s controlling Tory group are focused too much on grand projects and not enough on the people they’re meant to serve.
“Just look at what they’re doing – there’s UK Central, Shirley town centre, great big new developments in Solihull town centre making Solihull even grander but that doesn’t make residents’ lives any better,” said Ade, who represents Lyndon ward for the Lib Dems.
“It’s not a case of one or other, you can have nice buildings, but you have to improve the lot of everyone along the way.
“My vision for Solihull is to have a vibrant borough for everyone – it’s a prosperous area but it’s also got one of the highest levels of inequality – and that’s shameful.
“By raising everyone up you improve life for everyone, including the rich – it’s in everyone’s interests.”
He says one of the issues is that the Conservatives feel they are untouchable, despite the Lib Dems and the Green Party ‘punching above their weight’ by holding them to account.
“It’s unfortunate, but the Tories do not feel vulnerable here as they do in other parts of the country,” he said.
“When people think they can push through what they like, that’s not good for democracy, but we and the Greens are shining a light on their inconsistencies.
“The Solihull Local Plan is a perfect example with them trying to railroad something through – they say ‘but we’ve been discussing it for five years’ – which is all well and good, but not when all the changes are made at the last minute and there’s been no chance to debate them.”
He gives as an example plans to move the borough recycling centre – the tip – from Bickenhall to Elmdon.
“It’s a classic,” he said.
“We know they negotiated for a number of other locations yet they only put one forward saying ‘it is the preferred option’ and that we can consult about it when it goes to planning – well that just isn’t the way things are done.”
With the country gripped by Covid he acknowledges and is a supporter of the need to co-operate, but says, that shouldn’t provide an opportunity for the controlling group to take advantage.
“At the moment politics has been kind of parked because we are all concentrating more on supporting people but we have to be careful this is not abused,” he said.
And he praised the local authority for going above and beyond in its support in the pandemic, particularly for businesses, the self-employed and those who had fallen through the Government’s cracks.
“I must however single out our deputy leader Councillor Laura McCarthy who, on the issue of free school meals, managed to convince the council that these must be provided, and now Solihull is one of the best in the country,” he said.
“The controlling group have gone above and beyond but it’s been because the Liberal Democrats pushed them so that even before all the Government U-turns Solihull Council had stepped up to the mark.”
He now fears the country is on the brink of a mental health crisis as well as dealing with a surge in domestic and child abuse – all the more reason to put people first.
“We’re not about robbing Peter to pay Paul we want to work for the benefit of all – and that includes the well off,” he said.