ELECTION: Sheffield South East candidates spell out their priorities

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Sheffield South East has eight hopefuls standing in the general election this year - including the city’s only Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol candidate.

Here seven candidates explain what their priorities are to voters and why they are standing.

Liberal Democrat candidate Gail Smith has not submitted statements.

The statements are in alphabetical order.

Jen Battersby - Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol candidate

“This is my first real involvement in politics. Until CISTA was formed I always felt excluded and ignored by the political parties.

But there is a major issue that really matters to people here, an issue that none of the other candidates are brave enough to talk about; the desperate need for reform of the UK’s drug laws.

This is why I am standing in Sheffield South East.

I am a mother of one and a lifelong resident of Sheffield. I have seen how the medicinal use of cannabis can transform lives. Both my parents used it for pain relief, especially my mum who has suffered from severe fibromyalgia for many years. Why should she be classed as a criminal when all she wants is to ease her severe pain?

Right now in Sheffield, people are being criminalised for using a medicinal plant. But legalised, regulated cannabis would save £361m a year – the cost of policing our failed war on drugs.

We could also raise £900m a year in tax from a regulated market. The US state of Colorado legalised cannabis last year and has already raised $50m in taxes.

In the UK we could spend millions on improving our public health, diverting police resources to tackle more serious offences and supporting other desperately under-funded public services.

This is why I am fighting for a Royal Commission and review of UK drugs policy on May 7. Let’s send a clear message to Westminster that it is time for change.”

Clive Betts - Labour candidate

“I want a fair, thriving Britain and a fairer deal for the people and city of Sheffield.

Our NHS must continue to provide a service for all, irrespective of the ability to pay. We must:

• Stop this coalition’s privatisation plans,

• Provide the extra funds for 8000 more GP’s, 20,000 nurses and 3000 midwives

•Ensure that people get a GP appointment within 48 hours if required.

Everyone should have a decent home. We will build at least 200,000 new homes a year to buy and rent by 2020. Our children deserve a good education and an opportunity to earn a living. We will:

•Protect the schools’ budget,

•Guarantee an apprenticeship for those who get the grades, and

•Cut tuition fees.

Workers deserve a fair deal. We will:

•Increase the minimum wage,

•Encourage the payment of the living wage, and

•End exploitative zero hours contracts.

We will keep the winter fuel allowance and the free bus pass.

With unemployment and housing benefits, it is fair that you can only benefit once you’ve paid in. So, we will require that migrants from the EU must work for at least 2 years in the UK before claiming these benefits.

Sheffield deserves a fair deal. We will

•Ensure more decisions about local issues are made here, not in Westminster

•Reverse the coalition government’s unfairness, which has cut budgets for our local services by more than £200 a head a year, whilst protecting budgets in richer areas in the south.”

Linda Duckenfield - Green candidate

“The Green Party stands for positive change. We have policies to help improve the lives of ordinary people and make sure we pass on a decent planet for our children and grandchildren to live in.

Our councillors know you cannot be taken for granted. If elected as an MP, I would be just like our local councillors, being there for you all year round, representing you in Parliament and trying to get the best for you.

The time has come to change the way we have been doing things and change those who have been making the decisions.

If you elect Labour, Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives you will get the same business as usual politics.

Greens offer policies for the common good, where fairness replaces greed. We want to look after the 99 per cent not the highest earning 1 per cent like other parties do. We need to build a better society based on hope, not on fear. Greens are in politics for you and the planet, not for ourselves.

Caroline Lucas in Brighton showed that Greens can be elected as MPs, and that we can make real positive change.

Voting Green isn’t a wasted vote, it is voting for politics based on principles and trying to make a genuine difference.

I ask you to consider a different way forward and support me in the General Election, and my Green colleagues in the Council Elections.”

Matthew Roberts - English Democrats candidate

“My name is Matthew Roberts and I am proud to have been selected as your English Democrats candidate for Sheffield South East.

Children are the future and they are being let down by the present politicians. Child poverty is still widespread in Sheffield.

I would campaign to reduce, and then eliminate this. We shouldn’t have child poverty and still be giving money in foreign aid to rich countries. We need to put English people first.

South Yorkshire has suffered from grooming gangs, which was largely, covered up. I would campaign to bring the people who were involved to justice.

We need to listen to our young people and ensure political correctness doesn’t get in the way of what is right and fair.

I would campaign for our schools to teach English history and culture. We should be proud of our past achievements and build on them.

I would campaign to make St George’s Day a public holiday and ensure there are St George’s events in and around Sheffield.”

Matt Sleat - Conservative candidate

“Like many people who come to this city, Sheffield is a place I have come to love since starting work at the University of Sheffield in 2007. It is a great honour to stand for election in Sheffield South East in the General Election this May.

I am standing for the Conservative Party because I think we have the right values and policies to benefit working people up and down this country, including northern cities like our own, and which will leave to the next generation a country in which all people can get on in life regardless of their background.

Our long term economic plan is putting our economy back on the right track by providing the growth that is needed to create security at every stage in people’s lives.

The deficit has been halved as a share of national income, 26 million people have had their income tax cut, and there are two million more people in employment. But a stable economy is only a means to an end. We need a strong economy to fund a world-class NHS that remains free at the point of use, the schools that ensure every child in Sheffield gets the start in life they deserve, and the support families in realising their dream of owning their first home.

We have made a good start in achieving all of this, but we know there is much more we still have to do to secure a better future for everyone.

I have three priorities for Sheffield:

Education. I have worked as an academic at the University of Sheffield for the past eight years, and have been a governor in a Sheffield primary school. I strongly believe in the importance of education in building better lives for our young people, and we must work harder to ensure that

Community. I understand the importance of the family and of a strong and vibrant local community. If you elect me, I will be the local champion that Sheffield needs to stand up for our community’s concerns and interests.

Business. My wife works for a successful small recruitment agency, and through that I understand the need for us to support entrepreneurs and businesses as the backbone of our economic recovery that will deliver stability and prosperity for all.

The people of Sheffield South East deserves better. If you make me your MP in May, that is what you will get.”

Ian Whitehouse - Trade Union and Socialist Coalition

“My name is Ian Whitehouse, I am standing for TUSC in South East Sheffield.

I have put my self forward because I have had enough of inequality and ordinary people like you and me being blamed for mistakes made by multimillionaire bankers.

Disagree with me if you want but I don`t see why the public should have to put up with cuts to public services while the bankers are still getting gilt-edged bonuses, or should that be guilt edged.

My wife works for the NHS. Now they are workers that need a bonus , are they getting one from the Con Dems? No, they are facing cuts and privatisation.

Surely the NHS should be first in line for investment .

Both my son and daughter have gone through university and are now saddled with debt, what a start to an adult life even before you start looking for some where to live.

This is why we in TUSC believe in free education and that a massive council-run social house building scheme is needed to build quality housing that will last generations .

I have lived and worked in and around Sheffield for over fifty years, I love the place mainly because of the people in it but those people need their pride restored.

No more zero hour contracts.

Ten pounds an hour minimum wage to make the big companies face their responsibilities of tax and national insurance.”

Steven Winstone - Ukip candidate

“Steven is a local businessman who is active in the heart of Sheffield’s world famous steel industry.

He was published in “Who’s Who” in the “Young Entrepreneurs of the year” section for several years running up until 2009 (stopped qualifying as young after that!)

Having lived in Europe for a time and still holding commercial interests over there he “totally gets” the EU question.

“We need to be out of the EU; it’s not working and the resultant problems are clear for all to see”, he said. “Freeing ourselves from the EU burden frees up business and goes a long way towards balancing Britain’s books - it’s a no-brainer”.

Steven is the son of an immigrant father, an Anglo-Indian of mixed heritage who settled in the UK.

Steven lives in Beighton, in the heart of the constituency that he hopes to represent in Parliament, Sheffield South East. His wife is a doctor, or embryologist, and they are blessed with two young children who are schooled locally.

He got involved in politics having seen the “total failure of Labour and Conservatives in saving local industry and real jobs.”

“We need change, and we need it sharp”, he said.

“Sheffield South East has been taken for granted. The local Labour Party think that they have an automatic right to the being in power around here and only come to life for a few weeks before a general election.”

Similar areas in Leeds and Manchester have seen investment and real social improvement, here steelworks close, communities are ruined with ever more 24 hour supermarkets and sprawling new housing estates on the green spaces.

“There is so much potential and I have the energy and vision to make things happen.”