Lib Dems elect leader to rebuild after defeat

Sheffield Lib Dems leader: Shaffaq Mohammed.
Sheffield Lib Dems leader: Shaffaq Mohammed.
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LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Sheffield have elected a new leader to succeed Paul Scriven.

Broomhill councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, one of Coun Scriven’s closest allies, will take on the tough job of rebuilding the party after they were swept from power by a Labour landslide at the local elections on May 5.

Coun Mohammed, who previously held a succession of jobs on Sheffield Council’s cabinet, was elected at a secret ballot at his group’s annual general meeting last night.

The new leader acknowledged the scale of the challenge ahead - and admitted his party might take some time to regain the council.

He told The Star: “We now need to regroup after the disappointing elections on May 5.

“We lost nine seats and it will take some time to win them back.

“I would love it if we were re-elected to the council next May, but we have to realistic. I am not going to promise people we are going to be re-elected straight away.

“If it takes a few more years, than so be it.

“The elections were really affected by national issues. We now need to go back into our communities and remind people why they voted us into power in 2008.”

Colin Ross, who stood against Shaffaq Mohammed, was elected deputy leader with special responsibility for children and young people.

Another contender, Ian Auckland, will retain his job as transport spokesman.

But Andrew Sangar, who also stood for the leadership, did not seek election to the shadow cabinet. Instead he will chair the South West Sheffield community assembly.

Most of the other members of the slimmed-down eight-strong shadow cabinet are those who governed Sheffield for the past three years.

Roger Davison, Simon Clement-Jones and David Baker were re-elected to the team.

New faces include former Stocksbridge town mayor Alison Brelsford, who takes over the housing portfolio, and former cabinet advisor Gail Smith, who is the new Lib Dem spokeswoman for health.

Coun Mohammed said: “I’m delighted to be trusted with the job of leading the group. What’s more, I’m pleased I have a first class shadow cabinet team.

“There is no doubt we have a tough task ahead. However, we can be proud of our local record and the people of Sheffield will remember this if local Labour councillors go back to their bad old ways.

“Despite the fact Labour took control of the council, more than half of people who voted in the local elections didn’t vote for them.

“We will ensure those people have a voice by providing a robust opposition and a real alternative.”