New Sheffield Lib Dem leader challenges Labour to listen to the people
The new leader of Sheffield's official city council opposition has challenged the ruling Labour party to listen to what people tell them.
Coun Shaffaq Mohammed was speaking after being chosen to lead the Liberal Democrats for the second time, replacing Coun Colin Ross who gave up the role.
The Lib Dems gained two seats from Labour in this month’s elections, increasing their share of the overall vote. Coun Mohammed said it was now his party’s role to make sure Labour councillors listened to residents on key issues such as tree felling and selling off public parks.
“The baton is on us to be the opposition,” he said. “The numbers say it and the experience says it. And the ones to hold (council leader) Julie Dore to account are us - and there’s a lot to hold Labour to account for.”
The wards where the Lib Dems made the most progress - including Beauchief and Greenhill, where the two seats were gained - included those where residents have angrily opposed the council’s tree-felling policy. But Coun Mohammed is determined to look at the city as a whole, and the wider city region as devolution nears.
“The Meadowhall extension for us is a big test of what the council is going to do,” he said. “We should welcome investment. It’s got to happen.
“They have been holding off on Sevenstone for 15 years. We need to press ahead and support business.”
And Coun Mohammed, who represents the Ecclesall ward, said his party wanted to represent not just the wards where it has councillors, but the whole city.
“Labour seem to have taken people for granted,” he said. “There’s is that feeling that Labour think they can do whatever they want. There is a sense of entitlement.”
Coun Mohammed will get his first chance to question Coun Dore on June 8.