Sheffield Council leader pledges not to take voters for granted

Julie Dore: Sheffield Labour Party leader of the Council.
Julie Dore: Sheffield Labour Party leader of the Council.
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SHEFFIELD Council leader Julie Dore has pledged not to take the electorate for granted on the back of her party’s massive Town Hall mandate.

With a 34-seat majority, opposition on the council has been weakened considerably.

Coun Dore said: “If I had a majority of five, 15 or 30, my decisions would not be any different from what they have been over the past year.”

Coun Dore said she and her colleagues had taken ‘very difficult and unpopular decisions’ over the last 12 months, such as making £55 million of spending cuts and reducing black wheelie bin collections from weekly to fortnightly to save £2.4 million each year.

She said: “We have taken those decisions because we believed them to be in the best interests of Sheffield and because of the tough financial position we find ourselves in.

“I am disappointed in the turnout, however. It shows there are many people who are apathetic about the entire political process, and we have to do more to engage those people.

“Over the last year we have tried to connect more with communities through efforts such as taking our cabinet meetings out from the Town Hall and holding them in local neighbourhoods.

“We propose to repeat the exercise over the coming year so residents have a chance to come and meet us.”

Coun Dore said her party’s success in Sheffield and overall nationwide, in which it gained more than 700 council seats, was down to public discontent with the coalition Government’s austerity measures.

Conservatives lost almost 400 councillors and the Lib Dems lost just under 300.

But Coun Dore added: “The problem is Cameron, Clegg and Osborne are saying it is ‘business as usual’ in terms of Government policy.

“Labour’s shadow cabinet’s position on the cuts is that we are cutting too far and too fast and that isn’t helping to grow the economy.

“We have a flat-lining economy and a double-dip recession which is hurting people in Sheffield and it is no wonder people feel let down.”

Labour councillors were meeting last night to decide on candidates to replace Coun Bryan Lodge, who has stood down as deputy leader.

A contest may take place depending upon how many names are put forward.

Coun Lodge, who retained his Birley seat with a comfortable majority, said the election result was ‘fantastic’ and praised ‘all the hard work’ put in by Labour supporters to achieve the victory.