Sheffield voter was fed up of words and no action a century ago!

Pictured at the City Hall, Sheffield, as vote counting begins for the Hallam Constituency - October 10, 1974
Pictured at the City Hall, Sheffield, as vote counting begins for the Hallam Constituency - October 10, 1974
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Michael Parker from Deepcar has been digging into the local archives and found a letter from a disgruntled voter in the elections almost a century ago.

The letter, written by someone signed as Vox Populi, appeared in the Penistone Express on April 5, 1919, It read: “Now that the local elections are upon us, I should like to call the attention of the electors to some of the great disadvantages under which we live at Stocksbridge. Some of them are a positive and lasting disgrace to those who have represented us.

Voters pictured leaving the polling station at Park Hill flats Community Centre, Sheffield on June 18, 1970

Voters pictured leaving the polling station at Park Hill flats Community Centre, Sheffield on June 18, 1970

“In the first place, the Sheffield Corporation provided us with a ’bus service to Sheffield in September, 1914. They also, after some delay, provided a shelter at the Sheffield terminus. But patrons of the ’bus service at the Stocksbridge end have to seek the shelter of the walls of property adjacent to the terminus.

“It is not long since I read a letter from a Stocksbridge reader of the Express, in which he remarked that there was a great wave of progression in the district. If anyone can show me anything in the nature of progression in Stocksbridge that the council can lay claim to I should be very pleased to compliment them.

“But outside the enterprise shewn by Fox’s, particularly in respect to the housing question, we have been dormant.

“With regard to sanitary matters, I know of houses in Manchester Road, at Stocksbridge, where upwards of 50 persons have to use six closets. I maintain that every privy midden in the place should be converted to a water closet.

“There is the question of a burial ground. We have nowhere in Stocksbridge to bury our dead. People, and in many instances poor people, are compelled to go to the expense of carrying them to Bolsterstone.

“Is it not possible to get a piece of land consecrated in Stocksbridge? Bolsterstone churchyard will not always be available. Then there is the question of a hospital. We always have to rely on Sheffield. The War Memorial committee might with advantage take note of this remark.

“Also the postal service is absurd. One always notices how we get inundated with flowery effusions just prior to elections. But afterwards, when we review the activities of those to whom we gave our vote, it proves a great factor in fostering that apathetic spirit that nowadays prevails at local elections.”

Michael commented: “Whilst I did not come across any details of candidates’ manifestoes, it nevertheless appears that the local politicians were then as now, long on spin come promise (ie flowery effusions) yet short on delivery.

“And seemingly then as now, motivated to get into office simply to then pursue their own (previously hidden) real agenda; thereby serving to foster a prevailing apathetic spirit regarding politics and the political process amongst the wider electorate who feel they have been duped.”