Sheffield Labour pledges action to win back people’s trust following council leader’s departure
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News that Sheffield Labour had been put into special measures by the party central office and forced Coun Fox to resign from his job as city council leader broke on the morning of the city council election count last Friday (May 5).
Although Labour ended up with the same number of seats in the election, trust in the council has been hit badly by the damning Lowcock Report into the tree-felling scandal, high-profile failures such as the Fargate Container Park fiasco and contentious issues such as the clean air zone and red line proposals for Abbeydale and Ecclesall roads.
The party statement speaks about “important and avoidable mistakes, mistakes we are determined to put right” to win back the confidence of city communities.
It pledges to enter into negotiations with other parties on the way forward with “collaboration and transparency at the heart of our approach”.
The council remains under no overall control following the election. Labour has 39 seats, LibDems 29 and Greens have 14. Labour lost Hillsborough to the Greens and gained Nether Edge and Sharrow from that party.
Last week, LibDem leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed urged the Greens to back him as a locally democratically-elected council leader, saying that the new Labour leadership would be carefully selected by the party’s national office.
Today’s Sheffield Labour statement said: “Our city is faced with unprecedented challenges and opportunities, and we need leadership and stability to tackle them.
“The election results last week and the referendum two years ago have made clear the demand across our city for a new, more collaborative and transparent approach to how we do politics. That message has been made loud and clear, and we unreservedly accept the need for change.
“A Labour council led our city through austerity and Covid but there have also been important and avoidable mistakes, mistakes we are determined to put right. We need to rebuild the trust and faith that communities across Sheffield have in their local Labour Party.
“To that end Labour councillors will now elect a new leadership team at the council and open up discussions with colleagues from other parties to agree a way forward for our city.
“Across a significant number of issues – from the need to fix our public transport system to hitting our net-zero goals – we agree on more than we disagree.
‘We hear you’
“The leadership of Sheffield Labour Group will enter into those negotiations in the spirit that our communities would expect. We will put collaboration and transparency at the heart of our approach, and we will ask the other parties to do the same.
“To those who put their faith in the Labour Party at the elections last week, thank you. To those we need to win back, we hear you. Our efforts to win back your trust start now.”