Parking and public toilets. They’re the hyper-local priorities for the new MP for Hillsborough, according to one businesswoman.
The Star visited the Sheffield constituency to ask residents and workers what matters, and which changes the area needs ahead of the general and local elections on May 7 – and if they will be casting a vote on polling day.
Common themes which people wanted their next MP to champion were the thorny, very local problems of public loos and highways.
Mum Nicola Wilkinson, owner of Parkin’s Pantry in the Hillsborough Shopping Exchange, said: “There are no toilets or baby changing facilities – and we need more parking.They’re the two main priorities.”
Sarah Hodkin, who also works at a café in the suburb, added: “Toilets are a massive priority because there are no public toilets anywhere in Hillsborough.
“Parking is also just massive because if you want to come down and park for the day you can’t for more than two hours – that needs changing. I’m not sure whether I’m going to vote or not – sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.”
Many people said they knew already about their intentions for May 7 – and they would not involve a polling station.
One woman, who lived in Hillsborough but wouldn’t be named, said: “I don’t think I am going to vote, I think it is a waste of time. Politicians say things they are going to do and then they don’t do them.
“I voted last year and it backfired on me – I don’t want to go into details.
“We do need changes, toilets and parking to get more people coming in here. There’s too many charity shops here and people go to Meadowhall instead.”
Hillsborough College sports student Kyle Holland, aged 18, had a different opinion. He added: “I will vote but I’m not sure how yet – everybody should vote.
“The priority for me is there is nothing here for young people to do, no cinemas or anything like that, and it needs to change.”
The constituency of Hillsborough and Brightside was created in 2010 after a Parliamentary boundary review added part of the Hillsborough constituency to the former Sheffield Brightside ward.
Labour MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett has represented the new constituency, and before that Sheffield Brightside, since 1987 but is stepping down this year.
The last time the seats were held by another party was before 1935.
Retired railway joiner David Edward Young, aged 60, was one willing to pledge support for Labour – although he admitted there was a real threat from Ukip.
“I’m a working class lad, I’ve always voted Labour,” he said. “But Ukip have got a chance – I think they will do well in Sheffield because there are a lot of people not very happy.”
Mr Young also kept his priorities close to home – but was one of several people to point out a dangerous crossing where cars still sailed through despite the green man showing.
He added: “An old man was killed here a while ago and it’s the signals that are the problem. I’ve been here twice on the crossing and cars have come past – nothing is being done about it.”
Unemployment has been a concern in the constituency, and in 20102 it was said to have the highest jobless figures in Sheffield.
Home carer Patricia Wildman has a job but said her worry was low wages.
The 63-year-old added: “The Government is all about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
“Rent is going up and bills are going up but wages aren’t. I do think there should be a living wage put in place for everyone.”
Other big issues raised including leaving the European Union.
One said: “The priority is to get out of the EU, number two is to keep the economy going. I don’t like any of the major parties – Nigel Farage will never be the leader of the country but he is the option to get us out of the EU.”
Couple Jim and Dorothy White had struggled through traffic from Malin Bridge and said tackling congestion was a priority.
“All these empty shops too,” said Dorothy. I know people can’t really afford to open businesses but the council ought to put a lick of paint on them. I’ll wait until nearer the time until I decide who to vote for.”
Grandfather Jim, 73, thought he might vote to keep the current Government. He said: “If Labour get in all they’ll start doing is throwing more money away. If you borrow something you’ve got to pay it back sometime.”
n See The Star next Tuesday for a constituency profile on Sheffield Central.
cANDIDATES CONFIRMED so far
Labour – Harry Harpham
Liberal Democrat – Jonathan Harston
Conservative – Elise Dunweber
Trade Union and Socialist Coalition – Maxine Bowler
Respect Party – Nasser Younis
Ukip – John Booker
David Blunkett (Labour) 21,400
Jonathan Harston (Liberal Democrat) 7,768
John Sharp (Conservative) 4,468
John Sheldon (BNP) 3,026
Pat Sullivan (Ukip) 1,596
Maxine Bowler (TUSC) 656