But weather may yet play more decisive role

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WEATHER could play a big role in deciding the outcome of the elections, according to Sheffield District Labour Party chairman, Paul Wood.

He said that many of his party’s campaigners, who tend to be elderly, have been unable to get out and about because of the heavy rain.

“You can’t send them out because they’d drown or get pneumonia. That hits the ability to campaign because in some wards we have as few as two or three activists, although there are as many as 60 in other areas,” Mr Wood said.

However, Labour has had some help with national deputy leader, Harriet Harman, braving the miserable conditions to visit Sheffield and support the campaign.

Mr Wood said: “What we have found on the doorsteps is continued disillusionment with the Lib Dems at local and national level. We feel we can challenge in almost every ward this time, apart from Dore and Totley and Fulwood, but even there, the amount of votes we get could influence the result.”

Meanwhile, Lib Dems’ national deputy leader Simon Hughes has also been in Sheffield, where he accompanied Broomhill candidate Paul Scriven knocking on residents’ doors.

Mr Hughes said: “I am confident that the mood on the streets is much better than last year. Our focus is on local issues such as Labour’s record in the Town Hall which has including turning down money available to keep weekly bin collections.

“Nationally, we have a good story to tell. We are raising the lowest paid people out of paying income tax altogether and the increase to state pensions is the largest ever.”

Green Party Central Ward candidate Rob Murphy, defending the seat he has held for four years, was in positive mood. He said: “The main parties’ campaigns have been quite negative. We have had a good reaction in Central and Broomhill, which we are also targeting, because people are annoyed with the main parties.

“People know Green Party politicians are not in it to become Prime Minister, but are hard working and stand up for local issues.”

Dore and Totley Tory candidate Anne Smith believes she can win because residents want an alternative voice in the Town Hall from Lib Dems, who are the only party representing the ward at present.

She said: “From my conversations on the doorstep, it is clear that people are not happy with our ward being represented by a single party. If councillors from that party don’t address a local concern because it doesn’t fit their political agenda, there is no alternative councillor to raise the matter on their behalf.”

Independent Crookes candidate John Hesketh, a Lib Dem councillor for 16 years who lost his seat last year, said: “If I have one overriding impression, it’s that a lot of people are fed up with the main parties. People know I am a Crookes resident.’’