Four in bid for Lib Dem leadership

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Four candidates are expected to fight it out to replace Paul Scriven at the helm of Sheffield Council’s Liberal Democrats.

Former cabinet members Shaffaq Mohammed, Colin Ross, Andrew Sangar and Ian Auckland are expected to put their names forward in a ballot at a meeting of the opposition group on Monday evening.

Candidates will have three minutes to sell themselves to fellow councillors before a vote is carried out using an AV-style voting system.

Coun Mohammed and Coun Ross both confirmed they would stand – while Coun Sangar and Coun Auckland confirmed their interest but both said they had not yet made up their minds.

All four paid tribute to former leader, Coun Scriven.

Coun Mohammed, aged 38, who is married with three children and represents Broomhill, said: “It’s a job that would be a privilege to do and it is up to my colleagues to decide. We have a very important job to do in terms of providing opposition to Labour.”

If elected, Coun Mohammed, who was born in Pakistan would be the first British Asian party leader on Sheffield Council.

He said: “I have grown up here and I have Sheffield in my veins.”

Coun Ross, who lives in Dore and represents Dore and Totley ward, said: “I’d be happy to serve under whoever is elected leader but would be happy to stand myself.”

The 58-year-old, a married retired A-level teacher who taught Geology at Rotherham College, has been a councillor from 1994 – apart from between 2004 and 2008.

Coun Sangar, aged 44, was a policy co-ordinator for the Lib Dems before the party took power in Sheffield three years ago and he became part of the cabinet.

He said: “I need to consider my position and take soundings from colleagues over the next few days.”

Coun Sangar, who is married with two children, has represented Fulwood since 2004 and previously represented Beauchief between 1991 and 2004.

Coun Auckland has been a councillor for 11 years.

Lib Dem elder statesman and deputy leader Coun David Baker, who has ruled out standing for the leadership, said: “We have some very good people who look set to stand. What we need now is a dynamic, young leader with energy – it will be a hard fight to get back into power.”