A view from the Malvern Foothills


Beverley Nielsen writes for the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University in her role as Associate Professor Director, Institute for Design & Economic Acceleration (IDEA Institute) and as Lib Dem Economic Development Portfolio Holder on Malvern Hills District Council

Two lessons for me this week in reviewing British and European politics from the Malvern foothills: Old attitudes die hard; and never (unless you are well known political scientist, Sir John Curtice) make election predictions.

I suggested that the Lib Dems were going to see dramatic gains in the Euro Elections, predicting last week a move from 1 seat to 8 or 9. In fact, the party’s gains were beyond my wildest expectations, amounting to 16 seats in total, a huge +15 seat gain. 

With the Tories vote collapsing to 9% share in the Euro Elections -- a 200 year low – and Labour’s vote share at 14%, you might think there’d be a chance for a reassessment of British Left / Right politics. Fat chance.

For the Liberal Democrats polling 20% of the vote nationally, it was a historic achievement. In the West Midlands, the Party secured 16.3% of the vote returning Phil Bennion as MEP -- the first Lib Dem MEP in the West Midlands since he was last the MEP here in 2014. The vote represented the highest ever for the party across the region, touching the Labour vote at 16.9%, with Lib Dems only narrowly missed out taking second place.

The success of the Brexit Party has been widely broadcast - winning 29 seats across the UK, a 32% vote share and up +5% on the share held previously by UKIP. The Lib Dems came in second with 16 seats, Labour third with 10, the Greens fourth claiming 7, the Tories a mere 4 seats, with the SNP 3, and Plaid Cymru and the DUP taking 1 seat each.

And why do I note that ‘old attitudes die hard’? The prevailing commentary is cast in the politics of yesterday and remains so. Having attended major business lobby group meetings over the last week I continue to hear the same analysis of Left / Right politics. When I’ve asked about their views of the Lib Dem success, I’m told it was a ‘flash in the pan’… relating to specific circumstances with the party relegated to the ‘smaller, specialist interest’ category. Still.

The Brexit Party success, often highlighted in the context of growing nationalism across Europe, was not, in fact, the order of the day as the much-hyped surge in populist support failed to materialise to the extent predicted. In the end, populist parties won 112 seats in the new Parliament, up by just 18 MEPs on the 2014 result and representing15% of total elected MEPs, 10% off the 25% frequent predictions made ahead of the elections. And this despite Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance Alliance (RA) coming second to Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) and the Brexit Party surge in the UK.

Not so much has been written though, about the substantial gains for the Liberals in Europe, taking an additional +38 seats to total 105 seats, and representing the largest advances amongst any group. Whilst the Green gains of 19 new seats, totalling 69 altogether, led to the coining of the phrase, the ‘Green Wave’ sweeping across Europe - Germany and Ireland in particular - it has not been much observed that the Liberals and Green groups taken together have the second largest block in the EU Parliament. With a total of 174 seats, they sit just behind the ‘mighty’ European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) with 179 seats.

In Europe, the scene is now set for decisions regarding the successors to Tusk, and Juncker, both in place since 2014 as Presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission respectively.  Business lobby briefings suggest that Manfred Weber, Leader of the European People’s Party, was initially seen as in the running, but with Macron apparently thinking that ‘France is owed the top job’ they are promoting Barnier for the role. Business Groups have not, in the meetings I’ve been attending, referenced the Liberals in this mix.                                                                      

However, following the elections, Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the ALDE, was quoted jubilantly stating, “Europe is back… The ALDE group renaissance is here”, no doubt acutely aware of the French President’s MEPs, and those from the Romanian USR-PLUS coalition, swelling the ranks of his reconstituted Liberal grouping.

There will be no “business as usual” carve-up of the EU’s top posts, he claimed. “There is a new balance of power. We will be open to negotiating a new strong robust majority way beyond partisan lines.”                                                   

Similarly, senior Green MEPs argued that their Party would also have to be taken in to account in forthcoming negotiations, stating:

"Greens priorities will need to be included in negotiations on any new Commission programme. Any new President will need to deliver on our core principles of climate action, civil liberties and social justice.”

Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner, recently confirmed that she’s become the Liberals leading candidate for the Commission President. Donald Trump famously branded her the ‘Tax Lady’ in referring to her efforts to extract fair tax settlements from the US tech giants and in successfully fining Google $5bn – an amount larger than the annual net contribution the EU receives from The Netherlands.

In setting out her stall to become the next Commission President she’s argued, “new coalitions can be built. We can show change. We can have the first gender-balanced Commission”.  And notably, she hinted at working with the Greens in a progressive coalition.

This block – the ALDE (Liberals) and Greens, represent what might be referred to as the ‘Green Centre’. Whilst their joint + 47 seat gain has scarcely merited a passing mention in the British press, it’s time that we sat up and took note.

In Britain too, it is just possible that our conservative, small ‘c’, no fuss, population are already sitting up. Perhaps this is prompting new responses from our political parties. Perhaps this is no longer about tired Left / Right arguments. Sir John Curtice has proposed it’s actually about ‘social liberals’ versus ‘social conservatives’. He says it’s a discussion about what kind of society we should be: Social liberals are open, tolerant, embrace social diversity; social conservatives like the idea of a commonly shared moral code, commonly shared national symbols and a shared language.

On Radio 4, 30th May (2019), Lib Dem, Ed Davey, in plying his bid for leadership of the party floated the notion of the ‘Green Economic Model’. To quote Bob Dylan, The Times they are a Changin’; this is, in my view the big change that people want to see tackled in considering the legacy we leave to our grandchildren. To add to Sir John’s arguments I believe we need to consider how society delivers a sustainable and fairer economic model.  

And how does all this relate to the Malvern Hills as the cowslips and buttercups hit their zenith during this glorious month of May?

The people of Malvern Hills are no slouches either with our district polling the highest in the West Midlands at 43%. I am just taking up my new position as Economic Development Portfolio holder in our new Lib Dem, Independent and Green alliance, boasting an Independent Council Leader, Cllr Sarah Rouse, and our Lib Dem Deputy Leader, Cllr Tom Wells. It seems that Malvern Hills, renowned for our ‘original pragmatism’, is once again, in the vanguard of the changes sweeping across Europe… And it’s not all as bleak and extreme as it’s cracked up to be. The new radical, progressive centre is on the march, it’s fixed on delivering a sustainable fairer economic model for the future and it’s starting in Malvern foothills.

Liberal Democrats secured the highest gains in local elections 2nd May 2019

Vote Share for Lib Dems in West Worcestershire hits 24% up from 9.4% (2017); Malvern Hills Lib Dem Vote Share hits 28%

West Worcestershire Vote Share May 2019














Malvern Hills District Council Vote Share 2019

Gaining over 700 Lib Dem Councillors nationally, May 2019 delivered the highest number of gains in the history of the Party. 30 new Councillors were elected across the West Midlands, with the region accounting for 5% of the total increase.

In West Worcestershire Lib Dem vote share stood at 24% up from 9.4% in the 2017 General Election.

Malvern Hills District the Liberal Democrats gained 28% of the vote share – just 1% behind the Conservatives. The party gained 5 new seats on the Council to deliver a total of 9 seats. In Wychavon the party gained 2 new seats totalling 6 Lib Dem seats on the District Council.

Cllr Tom Wells, the longest standing Councillor with the highest vote share in the ranks of the Lib Dems in Worcestershire stated:

“This has been a great week for the Liberal Democrats across the country and closer to home in Malvern Hills.

“We have seen our seats increase from 4 to 9 here an increase of over 100%. The electorate has overwhelmingly rejected the Conservatives mandate and want to see a fresh approach. They keep saying to me they are fed up with extremes and want to see a moderate, inclusive approach taken that takes into account the needs of our elderly, vulnerable and importantly the next generation who will carry the baton forward.

“I am thrilled that amongst our newly elected cohort we have some great new talents including our youngest new councillor, Kaleem Aksar, who at 21 years old will, I’m sure, inspire other young people to become more involved at this critical time.”

Newly-elected Councillor for Malvern Hills (Priory) and Parliamentary Candidate for West Worcestershire, Beverley Nielsen, said:

"I'm really proud to have been elected and to join my fellow councillors in Malvern Hills. I’m looking forward to representing the great people of Malvern Priory and the district and showing them that electing Lib Dems gets things done!"

“Standing up for local people is what the Lib Dems are known for. We want local people to take part in the change that they have voted for. Many people have told us they’re very upset with the tired and split Conservative and Labour parties, and it's time for something different.”

“This result shows that we are within touching distance of the Tory vote in Worcestershire and a genuine challenger for the electorate. These figures speak volumes about the substantial recovery the Liberal Democrats have made and the Party is now targeting this seat in the General Election, whenever the Tories call it.”

Dee Tomlin, Chair, West Worcestershire Lib Dem Executive said, “This is a great result for us in West Worcestershire. We are backing our successful candidates and building on this as we look forward to the Euro elections on 23rd May."

Message from Beverley Nielsen, Chair, West Midlands Liberal Democrats

Since my last message, delivered as we entered the New Year, 2019, who would have thought that we would be where we find ourselves as a country almost halfway through the year.

Uncertainty over Brexit persists. Turns out Brexit did not mean Brexit. It meant stasis for the Conservatives. Perpetual disagreement with spanners in the works on all sides, including from their allies the DUP.

We have faced two potential dates for a cliff edge Brexit and we may still face yet another. The government has been unable to get its deal through parliament and business, large and small, has had to contend with almost three years of uncertainty.

The impact of the economy has been devastatingly clear. Investment has shrivelled, exports have declined, and for us in the Midlands Engine, automotive and aerospace producers are furious and all in business – whether of a Remain or Leave mind – want to know in what direction the country is headed. A wish resolutely denied by the government. 

The businesses I work with through my think tank, IDEA Institute at Birmingham City University, are clear about their direction of travel. They want the West Midlands to be the ‘Silicon Valley for Sustainable Transport and Built Environment’. With young activists including Greta Thunberg taking centre stage our businesses are keen to support this vision and see a circular economy actively promoted through government as a key element in driving the solution.

For me personally, it has been a time of great focus. A focus on promoting the Liberal Democrat message at every opportunity. I firmly believe in Remain as the best course for the future of our country, especially in light of the overwhelming majority of over 70% of young people who voted to Remain. They are about to see their right to the freedom to travel, live and work anywhere across 27 other countries in the EU taken away from them with no serious alternative in sight.

Having taken part in numerous debates prior to the Referendum I am clear that no one prior to the vote three years ago had given a moment’s serious consideration to be in the Customs Union or EFTA or the EEA. These options were simply not discussed in any meaningful detail. Similarly, the impact of leaving the EU was never considered in relation to Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement.

As a result, I have put myself forward as a candidate for the District Council Elections in Malvern Hills, where I am standing in Malvern Priory Ward. My fellow Lib Dem in Priory, Dee Tomlin, and I have been working in the ward for the past months, getting to know the residents, the key issues and proposing solutions wherever possible. I am looking forward together with all our 27 other great candidates to the election and to the vote next Thursday 2nd May. I do hope as many residents as possible will get out and back us for our local focus and for our consistent promotion of the benefits for all in our country on remaining in the EU, right down to district level.

I am proud to have been selected as Parliamentary candidate for West Worcestershire. Having been born in the area and chosen to return with my husband to raise our family here, this is our home. It is a part of me and every time I see the Malvern Hills and the Beacon I know I am heading in the right direction. We like so many others living here, love this place and want to see the very best for all our residents living and working here, now and into the future.

I put myself forward for the Euro elections and was proud to be included on the Lib Dem candidate slate as I have seen first-hand the benefits of EU membership for our country and our region.  In the post-industrial era, the UK government did not choose to invest in the West Midlands or Birmingham. In dealing with the challenges thrown up, our city leadership found that they could access investment from Europe and were able to regenerate our city and parts of the region that would otherwise have remained in states of severe deprivation. Brexit which has been seen as a protest vote by the so-called ‘left behind’ is a reflection on our government’s enduring focus on austerity and their ongoing inability to promote inclusive wealth creation. We need to be able to invest in our communities to provide the best quality education, homes, transport for all – across the West Midlands and in all areas of the country outside London.  We should not blame Brussels for a lack of democratic accountability but bring our focus much closer to home.

I intend to take all the lessons from standing in these elections back to our West Midlands Lib Dem Regional Executive so we can ensure that we are supporting fellow Liberal Democrats standing for election and representing our region as fully as possible in light of the learning and given our available resources.

Brexit – ‘no clarity any time soon’

First published by Centre for Brexit Studies, Birmingham City University

For almost three years businesses have been crying out for certainty. The government has blithely told them to prepare for all Brexit options. Larger businesses have been able to make preparations, spending billions with consultants and in stockpiling. For small businesses coping with the day-to-day matters, it is just not possible. Whilst devolved economies have made funding available to support their SMEs, firms in England have enjoyed no such support. As former CBI President Paul Drechsler said way back in March 2017: “…in reality many firms can’t prepare because the cost of change is simply too high to even consider it ….” The malaise has infected the wider economy with the NHS seeing a flight of EU doctors and nurses, with Brexit uncertainty said by Resolution Foundation to be costing each household £1500 and growth slower by 2%. According to the Bank of England the economic output lost since the referendum is worth about £800 million ($1 billion) per week, or £4.7 million ($6 million) per hour.

Instead of reaching out following the election when it was clear the government had only the merest majority, they embraced their hard right wing, pro-Brexit ERG and the DUP, aiming to push through a Partisan Brexit agenda.

The government claimed that to be true to the plebiscite 'red lines' had to be drawn. This meant not participating in the Single Market, the Customs Union and ceasing freedom of movement. However, they did not clarify the position for either EU nationals in the UK or for British nationals in Europe. Liam Fox repeatedly claimed that rolling over EU trade deals – around 40 in total -- would be a matter of ‘seconds work’. Three years later he has rolled over just £16bn out of £117bn trade deals, with business expressing 'fury' at the UK failure to roll over EU trade deals.

Whilst businesses large and small continued to plead for clarity the Government’s Brexit deal had been voted down three times by the House of Commons, with the PM’s own hardliners being the hardest to bring into line. A confirmatory public ballot (People’s Vote), had twice topped a poll of MPs as the best outcome of this Brexit mess, and whilst our MPs had secured a longer extension to the Article 50 process right through to Oct 31st, for business this simply pushed the cliff edge further away again.

The quest for certainty remained as elusive as ever for our local businesses. Lobbying organisations called it a “point of national crisis”, with the head of the CBI urging politicians to “act in the national interest, rather than in their “narrow party interest” to “find a compromise”. Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce, (BCC), put it rather more bluntly on Radio 4 Today programme, stating that whilst the Conservatives used to be known as the ‘Party of Business’, they were no longer. Speaking in March to the BCC’s Annual Conference of ‘those in Westminster’ he said: “We are angry. We are frustrated. You have let British business down.” In July last year, Grant Thornton’s International Business Report of 12 July 2018, highlighted that almost a quarter of firms had carried out no planning for Brexit with 42% believing that a plan was unnecessary. Practice Leader at Grant Thornton Birmingham, David Hillan, reflected the mindset of many businesses at the time as, ‘moving forward with their growth plans and adopting a “we’ll deal with it when it happens” approach’. However, ‘ducking and keeping their heads down’ had now given way to levels of frustration amongst business, not seen since the 1970s as they faced huge uncertainty. With just days to go before the March 29 deadline and the possibility of crashing out with No Deal, a new deadline of April 12th had been agreed giving the Prime Minister time to get her deal through Parliament by 22nd May ahead of European Elections on 23rd May. If this did not happen a further new deadline of October 31st would be applied – which whilst avoiding the uncertainty of a No Deal (up to that point) was playing havoc with automotive manufacturers who had brought forward summer closures to cope with Brexit uncertainty on the basis of the original March 29th deadline. Hillan explained the picture for one business he’d been advising with an overseas HQ, manufacturing technology equipment abroad, bringing this into the UK for further processing ahead of exporting the equipment for onward global sales, Their owner had wanted to close the UK operation following the Referendum, as he did not know what FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) might be in place post Brexit. After some lengthy discussions David had managed to persuade the owner to keep his UK operations open. However, concerns remained with the US in particular holding the view that Brexit was about the UK ‘severing’ its relationship with Europe, with all the implications this would have in terms of future investment. The impact on UK exports was already evident with the UK trade deficit mushrooming to £146.4bn over the past 12 months, up from £138bn during 2018 and up from £118bn in 2012. As research highlighted by David Smith in the Sunday Times April 14th 2019 was indicating, trade based uncertainty had resulted in more than 5,300 firms which had intended to start exporting to the EU deciding against it, and a further 5,400 businesses halting sales into the EU.

Business organisations remained up in arms using language rarely uttered before to government - not in private and certainly not in public. Whilst the financial crash was, in their view, a global event beyond the control of MPs in parliament, this was not. This crisis was of our government’s own making and the government needed to sort it out to ensure we did not slip into a serious recession brought on by continuing uncertainty and through the inability of our businesses and residents alike to plan for the future.

Hands up for Change

Dear Members and Friends,

The nation has been greatly distracted over Brexit. We recognise the 2016 Referendum result, but, and it’s a big but, we believe that people’s understanding of what it really means has increased many times since then, that true democracy is a dialogue, and that a vote on the deal is required and must include the option of remaining in the EU.

It remains of central importance to us as Liberal Democrats to continue to work tirelessly for an Exit from Brexit. Who would have thought that a People’s Vote, so derided initially, is now being called for by parliamentarians across our political parties.

Well done to our Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians on their success in championing this cause, in particular through the Best for Britain Campaign. They may be small in number but they have made their voice loud and clear in seeking to ensure that we, the people, have a say on the nation’s destiny…..especially now we know what the government’s deal looks like and the true cost to our nation of leaving on any terms.

Far from a £350m bonus to the NHS it’s already costing us £500m a week and our economy is 2.5% smaller than it would have been had Remain won the referendum according to the Centre for European Reform. 

This single issue is absorbing most of the energy of our parliament and draining attention from the pressing issues facing our nation.

Fighting for the West Midlands

Circular Economy

Many people feel excluded as ‘trickle down’ economics has failed to deliver a fair distribution of the wealth being created. Too often, those amongst the poorest 40 years ago remain the poorest today, with pockets of severe deprivation scattered across the West Midlands.

By buying locally, recirculating money amongst our small and medium businesses, focussing, whenever possible, on our home grown firms, we can help more people benefit from every pound raised and spent. 

To-date we have traditionally focussed on city growth models – attracting inward investment and too often ignoring the needs for our own home grown businesses. In Preston a model of ultra-localism has been generating results, with public procurement from local firms making the money spent locally work harder for local people drawing on the multiplier impact.  The leadership of their local authority has been key to this approach. With the largest local authority in Europe based in the West Midlands we have a chance to learn from this, collaborate across our local authorities and, drawing on the Combined Authority’s entrepreneurial spirit, create a co-operative West Midlands Model to deliver more homemade success.

Young People

Our young people are struggling – they are not receiving their fair share.

Whilst our employment rate nationally and in the West Midlands is at an all-time high, among 16-24 year olds, those commonly referred to as ‘NEETs’, (not in education, employment or training) unemployment in the West Midlands is 13.1%, well above the average for England at 11.1% and second highest after the North East. Among NEETs the unemployment rate for 16-19 year olds is 28% across the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). The Black Country has a NEET unemployment rate of 34.5%, 23.7% in Coventry and Warwickshire, and 16.5% in Greater Birmingham and Solihull. There is an urgent need to deal with the scourge of hopelessness that confronts those who leave school with no prospects of useful employment in meaningful and fulfilling work. Young people in such situations can easily become part of a ‘lost generation’.  

The impact of government austerity measures has resulted in the West Midlands experiencing some of the steepest cuts in funding for youth work and contributing to the shocking rise of criminality amongst young people. In Wolverhampton, the budget for youth services shrank by 86% between 2014-2017.  The fatal stabbing in Coventry of 16-year-old Jaydon Washington James brought the number of teenagers and younger children killed by knives in the West Midlands police force area to six this year, more per capita than in London and a 40-year high. Linked to “massive” levels of deprivation, minors are frequently attending A&E because of alcohol and drug problems, with mental health issues and self-harming also reportedly increasing at alarming rates.

Amongst 25-34 year olds home ownership levels are at their lowest since 1961, down to 25% from 50% levels in 1990. They are shortly to be denied the freedom of movement that we have taken for granted in freely accessing work and learning opportunities across Europe and in developing international careers and transcultural attainment.

Inheritance is now considered the most crucial factor in determining a person’s overall wealth since Victorian times. If people don’t feel they can earn wealth and gain social mobility based on their own levels of attainment, they will become ‘very ratty indeed’. Surely we have seen some of this with the Brexit vote. All too easy to take a pot shot at Commission bureaucrats, rather than our own in Whitehall and across government who have used Brussels as a convenient whipping boy, whilst too rarely acknowledging the benefits.

Transport and Air Quality

Our roads are congested and poor air quality is affecting too many people’s health with around 3,000 premature deaths each year as a result. As one of the worst hit areas for illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution, many don’t seem to realise they and their children are breathing some of the UK’s most polluted air.

In 2017-18 we received £412 per head on public transport compared to £1019 per head in London. The West Midlands received just 4.6% of all transport funding, compared to 50.4% for London -- even though one third of all freight traffic moves through our roads and over two thirds of all rail freight.

Last mile transport solutions, including low-cost, ultra-low carbon tram and train options, such as the Stourbridge Shuttle, made in the West Midlands and shuttling 5m passengers over the past 9 years between the Stourbridge bus and mainline stations and funded by private investors, has recorded a 99.7% reliability rate. Why has this not been rolled out for the people of the West Midlands to enjoy and benefit from? Rather than focussing on lower cost last mile integrators our authorities are spending £3.2bn on Spanish built trams and procuring bikes for Birmingham and the West Midlands from Germany.  According to Tussell (2017) the West Midlands has the worst record in awarding public contracts to local firms.  

Over centralisation, Services and Health care

Public services are being closed down, modernisation and innovation are being slowed down as local authorities struggle with their budgets, cut by well over 50% during the past decade of austerity.

In fact, we’ve seen 73% cuts to local authority funding in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area since 2010-11. Birmingham City Council has experienced staff reductions from 21,000 in 2010 to around 7,000 by 2018. With devolution on the agenda and our first elected Mayor, far from seeing a move away from centralisation of government service provision, we have seen a shift in public sector jobs to central government with a record high of 3.11 million jobs in June compared to 2.05m in local government. 

Over £1.5bn is being spent on new teams across Whitehall in preparation for Brexit. Just this month, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced he is setting aside a £2bn No Deal Brexit pot with £500m to stop border chaos and £25m for custom checks.

Within the NHS, around 44% of Trusts providing secondary care to patients are in the red in 2017/18. This is more like 65% among Acute Hospital Trusts. Collectively they finished 2017/18 with a deficit of around £960 million. We have seen the loss of 70,000 adult care jobs since 2009. Roughly one in 10 medical and nursing posts are unfilled, with a 15% increase in EU workers leaving the NHS. More recently, NHS hospitals are set to pay for new visas for thousands of EU staff in efforts to retain their services after Brexit

 No one voted for this in the Referendum.


The West Midlands Combined Authority is targeting for 215,000 homes to be built in the West Midlands by 2030. According to the House Builders Federation, for every £1 spent on construction there is a ‘multiplier’ of £2.84 in the local economy. Investing in local builders and supply chains would deliver a benefit to the region of almost £70bn up to 2030. However, the government increasingly is focussing on modular build with a very high percentage of the content imported from China, Far East, Russia and Scandinavia.

4 Priorities-4-Change

Fair Share

We advocate the allocation of a fair share for the people of the West Midlands, as a matter of course. Open government, as a matter of practice. We need to know where our money is being spent, and our voices should be heard and taken into account when it comes to key decisions.

Our People First

We want to build a diverse, inclusive and sustainable regional economy that reduces the gap between have and have nots.

We want to see our young diverse populations put first, as retaining and developing our talent is key to our future success. We want to ensure we are creating jobs and career opportunities for our young people, linking training and education to local employment opportunities, creating hope and real opportunity. And by doing this ensuring that crime and drugs are not seen as the only routes out of poverty with all the impacts these have on local communities suffering from growing levels of knife crime and youth killings.

We want better integration in health and social care provision – helping vulnerable and elderly people out of hospital and acute care, rehabilitating them properly before their journey back home, whilst also delivering cost savings for our public purse.

Pride of Place

We want to eradicate homelessness, build more affordable homes and establish vibrant local communities people can be proud of.

We want to develop a bank of volunteer supporters to clean up our urban centres and support the charities supporting the homeless and food banks and many others working so hard across the region.

Building our local economy will require more of our public spend to be made with our own home grown firms and in our own place. The circular economy will help to redistribute the money raised from our people and help even out the gap between haves and have nots.

People’s Dividend

We want to see a People’s Dividend as the public sector develops entrepreneurial methods including in procurement, aimed at solving the problems we face – local energy grids, local transport, local housing, local health and social care solutions. Drawing on our local assets, pension funds, local banks we can create world class homemade solutions to meet our needs, the needs of our people.

Don’t blame Europe for our problems. Don’t demand that we take back control from Europe and then leave all the control in the hands of Westminster. We can find and deliver our answers much closer to home. England is not getting a fair settlement and this is particularly felt by the people of the West Midlands.

West Midlands Liberal Democrats – our regional priorities

What are we doing about all this in the West Midlands Liberal Democrats?

We are working hard to support the local elections coming up this May 2019, especially following some notable successes in 2018 Council elections – most recently with the by-election success with Dominic Skinner winning Stratford North Division on Warwickshire County Council https://rugbylibdems.org.uk/en/article/2018/1285804/lib-dems-win-by-election-in-warwickshire-and-gain-new-county-councillor . Congratulations to all involved in running this campaign and delivering a memorable victory. We look forward to reading more about Dominic Skinner as our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Stratford Upon Avon constituency.

We have appointed our very successful Training and Development Officer, Jennifer Gray, who has relished the task of providing new training courses for our Local Parties, working her way around the region, meeting our representatives and learning as much as she can about the challenges confronting us. Through her we have made many new friends and our Regional Executive has been rejuvenated with new faces, along with a contingent of loyal supporters who have for so long been the back bone of the party locally.

We are looking to appoint a new Campaign Manager as we set about delivering our Campaign2020 ahead of the Metro Mayoral Campaign and election. This will prompt a coordinated approach across the West Midlands Combined authority area.

In both rural and urban parts of the region we will be working closely with our Party Chairs and Councillors to ensure we have captured key concerns and priorities. Our Regional team have visited all parts of the region through 2018 forging new bonds and friendships, and will continue to do so in 2019.

We have made great strides with our Monthly News update, West Midlands Matters, with thanks are due to our editor, Jordan Quinlan.

We are calling all our Chairs and Councillors (or designated representatives) to join us for a meeting on morning 2nd February 2019 at a central location (to be confirmed) so we can work through our shared priorities with you in person. Our aim will be to champion our joint messages and promote a fairer share for all who live here.

I was pleased to thank our retiring West Midlands Executive at our Annual General Meeting in November. Our newly elected Regional Executive and co-opted members are shortly due to be listed on our West Midlands Liberal Democrat Webpages. Everyone is very welcome and their contributions are greatly valued.

We are working hard to attract more diverse representation and we will shortly be launching a new campaign aimed at promoting the special qualities and contributions made by the vibrant rainbow making up our rich and diverse West Midlands communities.  We are also looking for people to join our newly established policy group led by our new Chair of Policy Dr Yeow Poon.

If you want to put your #Hands-Up-4-Change then do contact us at beverley@beverleynielsen.co.uk. You will be most welcome and we greatly look forward to hearing from you.


Beverley Nielsen

Chair, West Midlands Liberal Democrats




Season's Greetings from Beverley


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As another year draws to a close, I have been spending some time reflecting on the past twelve months and looking ahead to all that awaits us in 2018.

Read more

Welcome Sir Vince!


In opening the event and welcoming the 150 guests, Liberal Democrat members from across the West Midlands Beverley Nielsen, Chair, West Midlands Liberal Democrats observed some of the aspects about our new leader, Sir Vince Cable, that set him apart from others in the political fray. You can read more about Vince's visit, on the Regional Website.

“Sometimes there is a voice that cuts through. You don’t have to be the most informed person to see it or to hear it. And that’s what we have with Vince. An authentic, sincere, well-meaning voice.

“Because we all know that with Vince it is about our country’s best interests and our people’s best interests. Always speaking with these at the core of his words and actions.

“‘Enigmatic’ is the word the BBC chose in describing Vince…’not given to emotional outbursts or shows of passion.

“A contemporary of the likes of Ken Clarke, Michael Howard and Norman Lamont - some of the Tory "big beasts" of the 1990s - while at Cambridge University.

“In the West Midlands so long overlooked and coping with a growing legacy of inequality and exclusion, we are especially heartened to see your manifesto flag up the ‘fair free and open’ core of the liberal values at the heart of our party.

“Wikipedia says of you – ‘the conflict between big ideas - rather than the day-to-day grind of politics - seems to animate him most’ and your manifesto seems to back this up.  You state:

“The House of Commons is unrepresentative and tribal. The Lords are chosen by patronage, not the people. The party funding system gives wealthy people undue influence. English local government has been nationalised, creating the most centralised system of government in the Western world.” 

Do we take it you don’t think the Mother of Parliaments is working? Or even fit for purpose?

“We agree that the hugely-centralised nature of our political and economic management is damaging. We agree that enlightened entrepreneurship lies at the heart of renewal in our communities, in our public services and education as well as through our economy.

“We need in our region, a long-term cross-party approach.
We are proud of your achievements in government on our behalf – when as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, following the financial crisis from which we still struggle to recover, you “reformed the banks and created the world’s first Green Investment Bank and the British Business Bank.” And much more besides.

“If ever we needed our voice to cut through it is now. We need and want to secure electoral success at all levels of government – especially in the West Midlands where we have no MPs and a big challenge to re-establish ourselves where we once had.

“We want to recruit more members, run campaigns to make our country more liberal and more democratic. Your concerns speak to us, to our hearts as we sit here in the heart of our great country.

“We look to you for the answers to help us rebuild and renew and we can assure you that you have our full support, our energy and enthusiasm. We want to fight for our future. We want to fight for our children’s future. And fight to remain at the heart of Europe.

“Show us the steps Vince – as you did not so long ago on Strictly(!) and we will do our very best to follow. But above all, let’s start winning, focussing on winning and helping all in our winning team.

A Thank You From Beverley

key_beverley_thankyou.jpgDear Supporter,

Following the West Midlands Mayoral Election results last Friday I was keen to extend my very sincere thanks to everyone who supported my campaign over the past 8 months.  

During this period I have spoken at over 40 Hustings and 60 speeches along with numerous media interviews on national television - BBC1, BBC2 (incl Newsnight), C4, ITV, R4 Today Programme, Sky TV (including singing on Carpool Mayors!), along with many regional and international channels representing our multi-cultural communities.

Whilst I was clearly disappointed that the result did not go our way, coming third in our strongly pro-Brexit West Midlands was an outcome worth noting and certainly beating UKIP into fourth place was noteworthy.

The results show that in our stronger areas of Birmingham - Yardley, Selly Oak, Perry Barr and Hall Green, Edgbaston, as well as Solihull there is still everything to play for and we have some strong areas of rising support including Coventry and parts of the Black Country, including Walsall.

I know that our attention is now firmly focused on the General Election and for all those concerned about the hard Brexit being foisted on the West Midlands and its impact on our manufacturing heartland I urge you to continue to support West Midlands Lib Dems and the strong candidates we are fielding.

Please support us as we work for an open, tolerant, welcoming West Midlands, built on the diversity we are known for and celebrate.

Please support us as we promote our pro-small home grown business and home grown talent as well as the greatest access to the EU Single Market.

With best wishes,

Beverley Nielsen

West Midlands Mayoral Election Lib Dem Votes and Vote Share

Yardley 2519 (14.3% vote share)

Selly Oak 1639 (9.3% vote share)
Perry Barr 1740 (8.8% vote share)
Hall Green 2202 (8% vote share)
Edgbaston 1494 (7% vote share)
Solihull 3578 (6.8% vote share)

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The Lib Dem candidate in the West Midlands Mayoral election has climaxed her campaign by issuing a plea to urge voters to back “consensus not confrontation”.

Beverley Nielsen said traditional two-party politics had failed to deliver transformational change for either the region's urban areas, or its rural districts, for decades.


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