Sheffield’s independent business scene was praised by the leader of the country’s Green Party – who also said the city is a key election target.
Natalie Bennett, who has been leader of the party for two years but is not an MP, toured the city last week.
She called in at The University of Sheffield’s freshers’ fair to meet students before heading to Strip The Willow on Abbeydale Road South – a social enterprise that recycles and salvages items to be sold, holds exhibitions, and has a cafe used by community groups.
The leader told The Star: “Places like this really are the foundation of the future, they are what we need more of to build strong local economies around small businesses and enterprises.
“They serve the community and put so much back in, unlike the big organisations which so often don’t even pay their taxes.
“This is the real way to make the economy strong and I am impressed with what Sheffield has in this area.”
Ms Bennett also learned about Sheffield’s Antiques Quarter, a collection of retro, vintage and antique shops around the Heeley area which work together.
Hendrika Stephens, from the quarter, was invited to meet her.
Hendrika said: “It was an opportunity to talk about the way the businesses are working together to promote ‘buying local’.
“The quarter is as green as it gets as everything is recycled, reclaimed or local here.”
The number of Green councillors in Sheffield doubled at this year’s local election.
Members are said to be rising in number, including in areas of the city where the Greens are not traditionally supported, such as Beighton and Swallownest, and the young Greens group has been reformed.
Ms Bennett, who also visited the MADE entrepreneurial festival and took part in a debate about digital democracy, said Sheffield was ‘very much’ a target for the party in future.
The party is standing candidates in Sheffield Central, Hallam and Heeley wards in May.
She said: “Sheffield Central is an area we will be very much focusing on and Sheffield Hallam is going to be interesting. And Ms Bennett added: “I think that this will be the most unpredictable election at least since the end of World War Two.”