By Matthew Bates 25/04 Updated: 25/04 16:49
VETERAN politician Dave Nellist is readying himself for a final election push.
The Labour-turned-Socialist party member has been a key figure in city politics for decades and is aiming for re-election as city councillor when voters go to the polls on May 3.
The 59-year-old St Michaels ward councillor told the Observer he was taking nothing for granted.
"This is the hardest ward in the city because it has the largest turnover," he said.
"Since 2008 it has seen almost a 50 per cent turnover because a third of the population are students and a large proportion are renting.
"A layer of people will remember the 80s and 90s but many people new to the city won't know about me.
"We've done a lot of old fashioned canvassing, literally knocking on every door in the ward to talk about issues such as shared space junctions, sure start centres, residents' parking and the Foleshill baths.
"If I don't get re-elected all 54 seats could be taken by the main parties and I think that will narrow debate."
Deputy leader of the Labour-run council, George Duggins, told the Observer that Labour pinpointed Coun Nellist's ward and had put a lot of work into winning it.
Coun Duggins said: "We have an excellent candidate in Naeem Akhtar who would complement councillors Jim O'Boyle and David Welsh.
"I don't accept that losing Nellist as a councillor would be a loss to the council - it's all about who the people vote for."
But Coun Nellist added: "The fact Labour are more interested in getting rid of a left-wing critic speaks volumes about their role on the council.
"They don't fundamentally disagree with the Tories.
"There isn't a major party saying 'the cuts are wrong'. In Coventry, Labour are making the cuts and Conservatives are disagreeing with the detail.
"We need to fight back against austerity."
The other candidate in St Michaels ward is Conservative and former Woodlands councillor Christian Cliffe.
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