Rotherham Council: By-election candidates on why you should vote for them
Aughton and Swallownest and Anston and Woodsetts residents are set to take to the polls next week for a by-election, after both wards’ councillor stood down.
There are eight candidates contesting for the Anston and Woodsetts seat on Rotherham Council, which has been left vacant following the resignation of Conservative councillor Emma McClure, who announced in October she had stepped down due to increased caring responsibilities
In Aughton and Swallownest, Councillor Jack Austin also resigned, citing pressures on his business.
Seven candidates are now standing in Aughton and Swallownest, and voters will take to the polls on Thursday, December 9.
Here is what the candidates had to say about the issues each ward faces, and how they hope to win your vote.
Robert Taylor, Labour candidate for Aughton and Swallownest
Mr Taylor was a councillor at RMBC since 2015, until he lost his seat in May.
Mr Taylor says he wishes to pick up ‘unfinished business’ that he was working on before he lost his seat, such as road safety and health and wellbeing projects.
“The wheels of progress grind slowly,” Mr Taylor told the local democracy reporting service.
“We’re looking at various ways we could address parking and speeding, because most of the complaints we get through to the council are related to those sorts of issues.”
On health and wellbeing, Mr Taylor says he hopes to look into helping people of all ages with exercise, develop ‘healthy living’, and combat social isolation.
“We’re working on a number of those projects, and several have come to fruition, but again it’s ongoing all the time.”
Mr Taylor added that he took his role of councillor ‘very seriously’, adding that he ‘understands what it takes’ to be a councillor, following his previous experience.
MORE POLITICS: Rotherham Council local elections - full results
Simon Tweed, Labour Party Anston and Woodsetts Ward
Simon Tweed was a councillor from 2008 up until he lost his seat in May’s election.
He is a parish councillor, and was on the board of governors for Woodsetts Primary school for 20 years, serving as chair.
He has also been a justice of the peace for 23 years, and has lived in Woodsetts for 51 years.
“As an experience local councillor I know what it takes to serve this area,” said Mr Tweed.
“Recently in both Woodsetts and in Anston we’ve had a spate of crimes. The first thing I would want to do is speak to Alan Billings, the police and crime commissioner to make sure that we can get more police in our area.
“We’ve had issues with doctors – people can’t get appointments. I’ve been looking to make sure that we could get a better service as well as trying to get resources for elderly [residents].
“I’ve been looking to make sure [we can] get some meals for them in local community centres.
“The elderly people have obviously brought everybody up in this area. I think it’s time that something has to be given back to them.”
Mr Tweed is also campaigning for two crossings, at Woodsetts Road in Anston and Woodsetts crossroads.
Clive Jepson, Independent for Anston and Woodsetts Ward
Mr Jepson was first elected to RMBC in 2012, before losing his seat in May’s election. He is still a councillor at Anston Parish Council, and is standing as an independent, and will prioritise ‘bettering the lives’ of people in the community.
Mr Jepson said: “As a twice-elected independent borough councillor for the Anston and Woodsetts ward for nine years and an Anston parish councillor for the last 13 years, I have a proven track record of getting things done at a local level.
“Not only do the main political parties fail to deliver on their empty promises but they also let down residents by selecting candidates who are unable to meet the minimum requirements of elected office.
"I would not be told how to vote or what to say, unlike councillors of political parties that spend more time debating national issues they can’t affect rather than local ones that they can.
“My priority would be to try and better the lives of residents and communities by working with our parish councils, local voluntary groups and partner organisations in helping our villages recover from the pandemic.
"As a full-time councillor with no outside commitments, I would work only for the benefit of local people and oppose any policies put forward by Rotherham Council that I consider are detrimental to our area.”
Drew Tarmey is standing in Anston and Woodsetts for the Liberal Democrats
Mr Tarmey has been a parish councillor since 2015, and is currently vice-chair of Anston Parish Council.
He is a reader in medical education at a medical school, deciding which applicants to admit and teaching future doctors and healthcare professionals.
“I was just 15 votes off winning in May and I decided to stand again because local people have been let down by too many times in the past,” said Mr Tarmey.
“I believe that local councils work best when people with a wide range of political views represent local people.
"I joined the Lib Dems after seeing their hard-working local campaigners forming a viable opposition that Rotherham has lacked until recently.
“I pledge to stand up for local people and ensure that their voice is heard.
“We have problems with litter and fly tipping and I pledge to help improve our green spaces. We also need to see more environmentally appropriate tree and hedgerow planting.
“If elected I will work with council officers, the police, and councillors from across the political spectrum to help tackle crime, antisocial behaviour, and fly-tipping. Everyone has a right to feel safe in their area.
“I pledge to work with local parish councils and other councillors, whatever their political affiliation, to pool their resources and improve our local area.”
Chris Whitwood is standing for the Yorkshire Party in Anston and Woodsetts.
Speaking in behalf of himself, and his Yorkshire Party candidate and fellow teacher in Aughton and Swallownest Dennis Bannan, Mr Whitwood said they are ‘dismayed’ at the disparity in education spending in Yorkshire compared to London.
“I am a graphic designer but was previously a primary school teacher,” said Mr Whitwood.“Dennis is a secondary school teacher. Whilst neither Dennis nor I have been councillors in the past, we were both dismayed when we discovered the gross disparity between education spending in Yorkshire compared with what is spent in the capital.
"Having taught both in London and in Yorkshire myself, the effects of that disparity are all too plain to see.
“From speaking to people on the doorstep, it is clear that public transport links is a major issue for both wards with many people having to travel via Sheffield as those are the only bus routes available for certain journeys.“We would put pressure on Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Combined Authority to improve the regularity and reliability of bus travel in the area.“Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, including fly tipping, is an important priority for Aughton and Swallownest requiring a zero tolerance approach to prevent repeat offenders but also listening to the needs of local community groups to prevent crime in the first place.
"In many parts of Anston and Woodsetts, there is a wonderful neighbourhood spirit so supporting this by working closely with community groups would be a priority if elected.
“Both wards have been hit hard by Covid so we would push for the council to use favourable business rates and targeted tax relief to encourage businesses in our respective wards as we continue on the road to economic recovery.”
Adrian Knight, Conservative candidate for Anston and Woodsetts
Mr Knight is a councillor on Woodsetts Parish Council, and is a founding member of Woodsetts against Fracking.
Mr Knight said: “I have resided at Woodsetts for over a decade and up until recently managed Dinnington Town JFC.
“I am a founding member of Woodsetts against Fracking and have spent most my career helping people.
“Should I be elected then I would like to make myself available to all residents of Woodsetts, Anston, Thorpe Salvin, Turner Wood and Lindrick Dale.
“I am keen to sit on the transport committee and am fully aware of the issues we face currently with the buses and getting our children to school.
“I want to continue to support Woodsetts Tenants and Residents Association and am keen to support and empower local communities and groups.
“I enjoy taking on problems and helping to resolve all issues from anyone within our community.”
Julia Mitchell, Conservative candidate for Aughton and Swallownest
Ms Mitchell said: “I’m looking forward to getting to work in the community. We need to tackle the streets, the environment, we need to get a bit tougher on crime.
“I want to help everybody because I live in the area, I care about the area that we are in and I just want the best for everybody in the area.”
Allen Cowles, Rotherham Democratic Party candidate for Anston and Woodsetts Ward
Mr Cowles was first elected to RMBC in 2014 as a UKIP councillor, and again in 2016. He joined the Brexit party in 2019, before joining the RDP, and lost his seat in May’s election.
Mr Cowles hopes to hold both the Labour administration and the Conservative opposition to account if elected.
“The biggest asset I bring to Anston and Woodsetts is that I know my way around the council, I am familiar with holding the ruling party to account, I did so throughout my time there and would continue to do so again.
“I would hold as I did previously, regular surgeries, I would attend the parish councils, and I’d quickly get to know Anston and Woodsetts. I have a track record of doing that in the past, and I don’t see why that would change in the future.
“I’m also aware that the oudium of the main parties is something that people are beginning to get get tired of.
"I wouldn’t be a member of the major parties. I don’t need to be told at my age what to say and what to think.”
Mr Cowles says the issues to tackle in the ward include housing, house building, lack of social housing and social care.
Gavin Shawcroft, Rotherham Democratic Party candidate for Aughton and Swallownest
Gavin Shawcroft is the RDP candidate for Anston and Woodsetts, and if elected hopes to address a anti social behaviour, health inequalities, fly tipping and child sexual exploitation.Mr Shawcroft teaches adult vocational courses and youngsters with social, emotional and mental health needs.He added that the RDP’s appeal for him was that it is an ‘independent group’.
“We in The RDP campaign on local issues; regeneration of the town, particularly the town centre; support for victims of child sexual exploitation; alternative education options, including ‘Forest schools’; addressing health inequalities in our communities; combating social isolation; support for businesses and emerging technologies; giving communities access via local meetings to Police and Council officials; and the preservation of green space and support for communities in objecting to building proposals.”
Mr Shawcroft says his priorities fore the ward will be to support community groups, and the development of new groups which address social isolation, and to work with communities and the police to address anti-social behaviour issues.
Mr Shawcroft will also prioritise liasing with council officers to take enforcement action against ‘fly tippers’, and hopes to work with local people and officers ‘in the development of road schemes that suit residents and businesses’.
Paul Marshall, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition for Aughton and Swallownest
Mr Marshall is an ex-striking miner and has lived all his life in Swallownest.He has served as a trade union shop steward in a local factory for the last 16 years.
He will campaign for more council houses, and the public ownership of buses, major companies and banks.
“There’s a lot of new private housing developments in Aughton and Swallownest,” said Mr Marshall.
“Thousands of people, especially young people, will never be able to afford to buy their own home.”
“TUSC says that Rotherham council should launch a mass council house building and repair programme.
“Build 5,000 council homes, more with four and five bedrooms,more bungalows, and more supported accommodation for elderly and young people, with increased mental health services support.
“Public transport should be publicly owned and controlled to run it as a service, not for profit.
“The regional mayor should use his powers to regulate services and fares.
“If elected, I will only claim any lost wages from the councillor’s £12,000pa allowance and any legitimate expenses.
“I’ve always stood up for other people’s rights and believe in the principles of solidarity and socialism.”