NEW men at the helm of Sheffield Council’s defeated Lib Dems have pledged to re-establish the party’s reputation for campaigning on local issues to help them with the tough task of regaining power at the Town Hall.
In the short term, the future looks bleak for the opposition party, which lost nine seats to Labour. The coalition Government’s tough decisions and further cuts are held to have caused the Lib Dems’ heavy losses on May 5 - and another year of austerity is to come.
To make matters worse, at next year’s election the Lib Dems are defending seats last won in 2008, when the party’s local support was at its height, so they could lose further seats. And there is not another election until two years after that.
The new men in charge of regaining power are council leader Shaffaq Mohammed and his deputy, Colin Ross.
Coun Mohammed said: “For us, the priority has got to be getting back out into the community and working to campaign on local issues, where our strengths lie. We still control three community assemblies - north, south and south west - and will use those to work with residents to see what matters to them.”
Coun Ross added: “We want to be a strong and intelligent opposition - we don’t want the people of Sheffield to be used politically, like in Manchester, where the impact of cuts implemented by a Labour council has been much worse than we managed here.”
Labour leader Coun Julie Dore said: “I congratulate Shaffaq as the Lib Dems’ new leader. I hope the relationship between our two groups will be more co-operative in the future. We want to face an effective opposition who will help keep the council under scrutiny.”