POLITICAL leaders in Sheffield are urging city residents to make sure their voice is heard at today’s local elections and end a trend of voter apathy.
Turnout has fallen to lower than one third in council elections in some wards in recent years.
Last year’s general election only saw turnout of 60 per cent.
Sheffield Council’s Lib Dem leader Coun Paul Scriven said: “People and their families will use council services every day many times without even knowing you are doing so.
“The council helps and supports in the education of young people, keeps communities clean and tidy, empties bins, makes sure the restaurant or takeaway people use is clean and hygienic, makes sure the garage people buy their petrol at give the correct amount from the pump.
“The council also helps to attract businesses to the city so we have more jobs, provides swimming pools and youth and library services for local people to name just a few of the services provided.
“What’s more, every time someone gets their council tax bill, it is local councillors that sets the amount. Do people want high or local council tax rises?
“Local parties in Sheffield are different, people have had the lowest council tax rises in the last few years ever under the Liberal Democrats and this year a council tax freeze.
“In this city, real differences exist between the political parties and voters have a real choice on how the city and council are run.
“It is really important that people stop and think about these issues, it will be too late if Labour get back and go back to a ‘favoured areas’ council, high council tax and shun businesses.
“The Liberal Democrats have said we will keep the weekly bin collection, Labour haven’t.”
Labour group leader Coun Julie Dore said: “This is a critical moment in local politics - Sheffielders have a clear choice about who they want to run the city.
“I believe that the Lib Dems both nationally and locally have been fundamentally dishonest and have let people down. I think a lot of people in Sheffield share this view.
“Unlike the Lib Dems, Labour will always stand up for Sheffield and will always put the interests of the city first.
“However, whichever party people support, what is absolutely vital is that as many people as possible do take the time to vote and have their say.
“This election could be very close and people need to know that their vote will decide whether the Lib Dems continue to be in control in Sheffield or whether Labour will be given the opportunity to take the city forward.
“I would strongly urge people to use their vote.”
Green Party group leader Coun Jillian Creasy, who is defending Central Ward, said: “I can understand why people are disillusioned with national politics because there is very little difference between the main parties but the Green Party is committed to working differently and providing an alternative.
“The local council is there to help people and help improve local areas.
“People should go out and vote - look for a candidate who works hard in their area, who is willing to support them with their individual problems and help them get together and campaign on local issues.”