Sheffield residents will head to the polls tomorrow to cast their votes in the all-out Sheffield Council elections as well as the Brightside and Hillsborough by-election.
To help you make up your mind over who will get your vote, we have listed below what each local political party has to say about issues that matter to Sheffield people.
Tomorrow, you will also be asked to vote for South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner. Find out more about the candidates here.
It’s not been plain sailing for the Labour-run Sheffield Council by any stretch.
Bus cuts and tree felling controversy will make any serving Labour councillor shudder.
But council leader Julie Dore is eager to shout about what Labour has done for the people of Sheffield.
Here’s why she thinks people should vote Labour.
“Look at our record,” she said.
“This is probably the most difficult period since the 1940s this council has seen.
“We had to find the cuts that were being imposed on us but we protected the most vulnerable and the services that the public told us were most important to them.
“People told us things like children and safeguarding, elderly care and protecting the most vulnerable were priorities. They wanted local community services to be protected as far as possible.
“We ensured not one library closed even though we had to find savings and looked at how services could be run differently.
“But under austerity we managed to open two new leisure centres and brought £40m worth of investment to the Olympic Legacy Park at Don Valley.
“We’ve pushed city centre development and we’re on our way to massively improving the area, which also includes the Grey to Green West Bar development.
Ms Dore also says Sheffield’s Labour group has ‘stood up for Sheffield’ on the national stage.
“The only reason you have got the Government now talking about east-west transport links, a tunnel under the Pennines, high speed rail linking Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds better is because of Labour leaders including ourselves,” she said. “We fight our corner on a national stage.”
Coun Colin Ross is the first to admit he doesn’t expect to be leading Sheffield Council this Friday.
But the Lib Dems are full of confidence that they will deal a huge blow to Labour’s majority of 59 councillors.
Public outrage over trees and buses has sparked protests and endless petitions. It’s something the Lib Dems have pounced on.
The party is also eager for Sheffield to build up its reputation for world class high-tech industries.
Here’s why Dore and Totley Coun Ross thinks Sheffield needs a ‘change of manager’.
“A big call from us is engagement with the public,” he said.
“People have been in the full council meeting where they’ve been up in arms about the buses, the highway trees, parks and libraries.
“It feels like people have raised concerns and they haven’t listened to it.”
Mr Ross said if in power, bigger financial decisions would be devolved to council wards.
The ‘community assembly’ scheme was something the Lib Dems introduced when they were last in power.
He said: “At the moment, we’ve got nine cabinet members making decisions about virtually everything.”
The aim for the Lib Dems is big gains in many seats.
Mr Ross said: “I’m looking to make substantial progress from our 17 councillors. Things are very positive on the doorsteps around the city.
“I’ll use a football analogy – when Rotherham appointed Neil Warnock he turned their fortunes around.
“I think Sheffield needs a change of manager so that we’re a ‘get up and go’ city.”
Their party leader Natalie Bennett has coined the phrase ‘Green surge.’
But in Sheffield, there has been more of a steady increase in votes and the number of councillors.
The Sheffield Green party want to be seen as an alternative to the Labour-Lib Dem block that dominates the town hall.
The party are standing 84 candidates across all wards in Sheffield. Here’s why group leader Rob Murphy thinks people should vote Green on Thursday.
“Ultimately, what we want is a council that listens to people and that works with them, not against them. Sheffield needs a fresh start and a fresh approach.”
And it’s not just about the environment. Mr Murphy says there is much more to the party.
“The main issue for us is open government and transparency on the council,” he said.
“What we’ve asked for and got it is the right for the public to video and record council meetings – but what we also want is public meetings in the Town Hall on the web so that people can see what’s going on.
“As soon as you get into elected office you realise that you have to deal with a broad range of issues and not just the environment. I think we’ve matured into a serious political party.”
Mr Murphy said making Sheffield safe for cyclists was also high up on the party’s agenda.
Spencer Pitfield, Conservative candidate in the Brightside and Hillsborough by-election, believes his opponents are in disarray.
“The upcoming by-election and local elections across Sheffield provide a clear choice; the competence of a strong Conservative council which will keep council tax down and provide quality local public services – or the disarray of the rest,” he says.
“This by-election is about who is the best person to stand up for residents. I believe I am that person. I care about Sheffield after coming here as a student and want to give back to Sheffield as the elected Member of Parliament.
“I have a clear plan of what I want to deliver if elected. I would ensure our streets are cleaned to restore pride in our community. I would also fight in Parliament to see our young people are given the skills they need to achieve success in life and want to see crime and anti-social behaviour tackled on our streets.
“I would also urge people to vote Conservative in the local government elections. The Conservatives are getting things done in local government, helping to deliver security and opportunity for the people of Britain.
“Across the country we have kept council tax low – so residents have lower bills and more money to spend, while under Labour, council tax rose 109 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent in the last five years.
“A vote for the Conservatives will also ensure councils get the freedom to control their finances – creating long-term financial security for local areas.”
UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY
John Booker, deputy leader of the Sheffield UKIP group, says his party is making progress in Sheffield.
“UKIP offers the logic and common sense of ordinary working people,” he adds.
“We have ideas, intelligence, high standards and strong morals to bring to the job of making the place we live in better, now and in the future. During the last two years as city councillors we have worked and campaigned on numerous local issues and are delighted with the progress made in many areas.
“In our budget we stated council members and executives must not be immune from financial cuts felt by everyone else. We proposed a five per cent cut in the basic allowance paid to members, a 10 per cent cut in special responsibility allowances paid to eligible members, the abolition of the cabinet advisor special responsibility allowance and a 10 per cent cut in the salary of any council employee paid over £100,000 per year.
“UKIP also stated we were appalled the previous administration have allowed the council to accrue outstanding loans to the value of £467 million, which will require interest payments in the financial year 2016/17 alone of £20 million. Nationally we believe joining the EU was the greatest political blunder in British history.
“Had we not joined we would be more democratic, significantly richer and happier. Look at Yorkshire, England’s largest county, home of coal and steel industries that literally built Great Britain, now totally neglected. Our steel and heavy industries are under attack like never before. There is a massive chasm opening up between the people and the politicians. It is time for real change.
TRADE UNIONIST & SOCIALIST COALITION (TUSC)
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is standing 23 candidates in this May’s council elections, one in each ward.
TUSC election campaign co-ordinator Alistair Tice says: “Even though Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the Labour Party, Sheffield’s Labour council has not changed one bit, they are still not listening and are still carrying out the Tory cuts.
“TUSC wrote to all 59 sitting Labour city councillors inviting them to back Jeremy Corbyn’s call for Labour councils to stand together against Tory cuts, but only got one reply and not a single one was prepared to vote against the cuts.
“So what’s the point of a Labour Council if they just carry out the Tory government’s cuts?
Another £50 million of budget cuts this year, at least 400 more jobs to go, £28 million service cuts and council tax up 4 per cent. Instead of passing on the Tory government’s cuts, the council should be standing up for local people against the Tory government.”
TUSC election agent Jeremy Short says: “That’s why TUSC are standing candidates across the city. TUSC is the only party that is opposing all cuts. And TUSC supports the Sheffield ‘No Cuts’ People’s Budget.
“This year, a coalition of trade unionists and community campaigns worked out an alternative budget for Sheffield Council that proposed the use of reserves and borrowing powers to prevent cuts in jobs and services in 2016-17.
“More than that, the ten point Peoples Budget includes scrapping the bedroom tax and council tax for the poorest, taking the waste management and re-cycling contract off Veolia and back in-house with the council, and massively expanding the council house building programme.
“TUSC would also freeze council tax for all and look into taking the Streets Ahead contract off Amey who have not repaired many roads but have cut down a lot of trees.”
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