Old hands fight to regain Sheffield seats

John Hesketh, who is standing for election as an independent councillor in Crookes.
John Hesketh, who is standing for election as an independent councillor in Crookes.
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FORMER Sheffield Town Hall stalwarts who served 24 years on the city council between them are bidding to make a comeback at next month’s elections.

Conservative Anne Smith, who served eight years on the council and is bidding to retake her old Dore and Totley seat from the Lib Dems, gathered with supporters and fellow candidates to launch her party’s campaign.

Meanwhile, John Hesketh, a former Lib Dem councillor of 16 years who served as planning board chairman before losing his seat last year, is bidding to take a seat from his old party when he stands as an independent in Crookes.

The Conservatives have not had a Sheffield councillor since Mrs Smith, who won an MBE for services to local government, lost her seat in 2008 - and she says that business growth is top of her agenda.

She said: “We are firmly behind the Government’s drive to rebalance the economy in favour of private sector growth. We will ensure that we nurture independent retailers, develop apprenticeship schemes to meet the needs of Sheffield business and encourage location of multi-national businesses in Sheffield with a flexible approach to rates and planning.”

Tory candidates, who include Vonny Watts standing against Lib Dems in Fulwood, are also focusing on raising school standards, preventing ‘inappropriate’ development and ‘rooting out inefficiencies’ in Town Hall budgets.

John Hesketh said “I left the Lib Dems last year, largely over national issues. I think Nick Clegg is taking the Lib Dems in the wrong direction. Since then I’ve stayed out of politics. However, local residents urged me to stand in the council elections.”

He promises to be ‘strong willed and determined’ on behalf of his constituents.