"We need to think outside the box" - Sheffield’s youngest councillor and sole Conservative talks about his new role
When Lewis Chinchen was elected as the new councillor for Stocksbridge he added a couple more titles to his belt as well.
He is Sheffield’s first Conservative councillor for a generation and, at 21, is also the youngest councillor in the city.
Lewis displaced the sitting Independent councillor Jack Clarkson with a majority of 497 and could play a pivotal role as a lone Tory in a coalition where every vote counts.
But he says it’s people and policies, rather than politicking, which he will be focused on in the Town Hall.
“I want to deliver for residents and as councillors we all have to try to ensure the smooth running of the council to get things done. These will be at the forefront of my mind when deciding what happens next.
“I have a good understanding of local issues, and residents want a councillor who is going to listen and work on their priorities and get things done.”
Politics runs in the blood; his dad David was the Conservative Police and Crime Commission candidate and his mum Sara also stood in the local elections.
He’ll need to balance his councillor duties with his day job as a legal apprentice at a law firm and he doesn’t live in the ward.
But he says he knows it very well and has spoken to hundreds of residents – helped by regular discussions with Conservative MP Miriam Cates, who represents Penistone and Stocksbridge.
The Tories came second in a number of safe Labour seats in the local elections and Lewis says there has been a resurgence.
“We have made massive progress in recent years. We have to look at the popular vote because we have one councillor but around 25,000 people in this election voted Conservative and that’s not far behind the Liberal Democrats and Greens.
“It’s important we try to capitalise on that as much as possible and try to get more councillors elected in Sheffield and show we can provide a new perspective and different priorities.”
The Government recently gave Stocksbridge £25m for regeneration and he wants to be involved in implementing those projects.
“We need to be bolder in terms of bringing investment into the city, Sheffield has fallen behind other competitors in recent years.
“I want to ensure we have a transport system fit for a city of the size of Sheffield so we need to think outside the box and I’m hoping to work constructively with the other new councillors.
“A massive issue is the lack of good public transport links within the ward – a lack of good local bus services which is particularly important given the geography – but also the links with Sheffield and the city centre.
“We really need to have a frank discussion about that. There’s a bid for passenger trains between Stocksbridge and Sheffield and if we can invest in transport that should help deal with some of the other issues, such as the lack of investment in the High Street, particularly Manchester Road.”