Just three days remain until Sheffield residents go to the polls for the hotly-contested Sheffield Council elections.
Each political party vying for votes on Thursday has issued a manifesto outlining their own priorities and policies.
Labour is hoping to keep control of the council, while Liberal Democrat and Green candidates hope to boost their parties’ positions and force the council into No Overall Control.
The Conservative party, TUSC and UKIP are all aiming to secure their first councillor on the authority, while a number of Independents are also bidding for seats.
The Labour-controlled council currently has 59 Labour members, 22 Liberal Democrats and two Green members, plus one vacancy following the resignation of Nikki Sharpe, Labour member for Walkley in March.
Of the 29 seats available, across 28 wards, 18 are currently held by Labour and 10 by Liberal Democrats, plus the single vacancy.
For live coverage of the Sheffield election count on Friday, follow @SheffieldStar or Political Reporter @e_beardmore on Twitter.
Sheffield Conservatives want to see cuts to council tax rates, leaving more money in the pockets of hard-working people and cuts to inefficiencies at the council.
The party said Conservative-controlled councils cost people, on average, £89 a year less than Labour controlled councils.
A Party spokesman said: “We want to cut waste and missed opportunities for funding.
“Other councils have saved millions per year by sharing back-office functions and sharing management teams, enabling councils to save libraries and invest in more frontline services. This is something we want for Sheffield too.”
The party’s priorities are:
* Investment in our roads;
* Better, more reliable bus services;
* Not ‘giving up’ on collecting unpaid debts, now escalated to £31 million;
* No more reductions in refuse collections;
* Protecting our Greenbelt and ensuring trees felled are replanted;
* Fight further closures of community centres and libraries;
* Ensuring better planning for places in local schools.
Sheffield Green Party is standing candidates in every city ward.
The party’s manifesto says a Green-led council would mean better value services, stronger communities, and action on housing, jobs, incomes, fuel and energy.
Sarah Jane Smalley, candidate in Central ward, said: “We would listen properly to everyone and ensure local people and businesses get their voices heard. We’d provide better information to help people influence how services are provided.”
Brian Webster, candidate in Broomhill ward, said: “We’d invest in good-quality jobs and services and push for better wages and conditions for low-paid workers. We’d favour local shops and businesses, because they keep money in the area and create more jobs.
Coun Jillian Creasy, Green member in Central ward, said: “All three of the big political parties favour further cuts, which harm ordinary people. The council should stand up for Sheffield residents.”
The manifesto says Sheffield Greens will:
* Lobby for more houses to be built, especially affordable housing;
* Put more resources into improving private rented housing;
* Campaign against cuts and provide better support for struggling families;
* Hold private service providers to account and bring more council service in-houses;
* Make bus services subject to more public control, return railways to public ownership;
* Oppose Government cuts and hold a referendum on whether to increase council tax to save libraries and protect services for older, disabled and vulnerable adults;
* Invest in good-quality jobs and services;
* Push for better wages and conditions after promoting the living wage;
* Favour local shops and businesses;
* Invest in green energy and better insulation;
n Oppose shale gas fracking.
The Labour Party in Sheffield said it was ‘standing on its record’ over the last three years.
The party manifesto says it had delivered pledges such as creating more apprentices, launching the city’s first 20mph zones and starting the Streets Ahead highways improvement project. It says the Labour-controlled council helped more than 300 young people into apprenticeships and protected services, such as child safeguarding, during budget cuts.
The manifesto focuses on four priorities:
* Building a strong economy;
* Creating opportunity for all;
* Protecting the most vulnerable;
* Making Sheffield a great place to live.
Labour is also pledging to deliver 600 new council homes, continue the Sheffield apprenticeship programme and bring forward a ‘radical new plan for the city’s economy’.
Creating an alternative to payday lenders and continuing schemes like Streets Ahead and the RISE graduate programme are also promised.
Coun Julie Dore, council leader and Labour member for Arbourthorne ward, said: “One choice for local people on Thursday is a Labour council investing in our economy, supporting local businesses, giving young people skills to succeed and doing everything we can to protect the most vulnerable from the Government’s unfair cuts.
“Or the Liberal Democrats who fail to stand up for Sheffield time after time and quite frankly can’t be trusted to be straight with people.
“In the past three years, Labour have demonstrated commitment to supporting our economy through schemes such as the Keep Sheffield Working Fund and to create opportunity for all through the Fairness Commission.
“We will continue to be guided by the values and priorities of local people.”
A campaign to save 16 threatened libraries is at the heart of the election campaign from Liberal Democrats in Sheffield.
The party said the controversial changes to city libraries had caused Labour leaders to face criticism for wasting millions of pounds on high-paid consultants, office makeovers and political pet projects like Park Hill.
Liberal Democrats are also campaigning to over-turn Labour’s anti-business policies and create new jobs in Sheffield by, for example, supporting furniture giant Ikea to locate in Sheffield.
Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Sheffield Liberal Democrat leader, said: “Everyone knows the council faces challenges but local people have been clear that closing libraries is not the right way forward.
“Instead of listening to concerns, Labour’s town hall bosses continue to waste money on their priorities at a time when every penny counts.”
The themes of the party manifesto are:
* Stronger economy – working alongside local businesses to help create more jobs;
* Fairer Society – protecting important services like libraries and helping children and young people get the best start in life;
* Enabling Everyone to Get on in Life – Cutting back on Town Hall waste and keeping costs low for taxpayers.
Coun Mohammed said: “We also need to make sure Sheffield sees the benefits of a stronger national economy. By supporting development, like the much-delayed Ikea, we can help bring more funds into the city to protect services.
“On Thursday, Sheffielders will have a clear choice between hard working Liberal Democrat campaigners who have led the fight to protect libraries and Labour politicians, who seem more interested in protecting pet projects and office makeovers.”
TRADE UNIONIST AND SOCIALIST COALITION – TUSC
New left-wing party TUSC is contesting 21 of 28 Sheffield wards.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition said it was a ‘breakthrough’ after candidate Alan Munro secured 8 per cent of the vote in the Arbourthorne by-election in February, finishing in .
It said TUSC, founded in 2010, is now the ‘sixth biggest party’ and the ‘only one opposing all cuts and privatisations, including those being carried out by Labour councils like here in Sheffield’.”
Sheffield TUSC spokesman Alistair Tice said: “What’s the point of a Labour council if they just carry out the Tory government’s dirty work?
“Instead of cutting libraries, closing children’s centres and bulldozing sports facilities like Labour are doing, TUSC councillors would not only vote against cuts but build a city-wide campaign to force extra funding to protect jobs and services.”
Walkley candidate Chaz Lockett added: “Ordinary people did not cause the capitalist economic crisis, it was the bankers and speculators, so why should we pay for it? TUSC stands for a socialist alternative of public ownership and democratic control of the economy for the benefit of the 99 per cent, not the profits of the super-rich one per cent.”
Key policies candidates are fighting for are:
- Using council reserves to keep all libraries open with professional staff and re-open children’s centres
- Oppose further privatisation of council services and bring others back in house
- Scrap the bedroom tax and end threats of court action
- Axe zero hours contracts and introduce a living wage of £10 an hour
- Restore free public transport for elderly people
UNITED KINGDOM INDEPENDENCE PARTY – UKIP
UKIP Sheffield candidates are ‘looking to improve life in Sheffield by becoming champions for local issues’.
John Greenfield, branch chairman, said the party’s ‘no-nonsense’ policies resonated with traditional voters.
He said: “We are looking to improve life in Sheffield by becoming the champions for local issues.
“We are interested in matters that concern ordinary people, because that’s what we are. UKIP is not a party of career politicians, we are just people who want to make a difference for the better.
“There is no doubt it is time for a change in politics and here in Sheffield we believe local residents want our city to be the best.
“More and more voters are becoming disillusioned with Labour and are voting UKIP and we are hoping to do well in Thursday’s elections.
“The Labour Party has been hijacked by a liberal metropolitan middle-class agenda and their traditional voters have been left out in the cold. These are the very people most affected by mass immigration because their communities have been turned upside down.
“They are also the most likely to be affected by crime and our no-nonsense policies resonate with them.
“We believe in local referenda on major local issues and we do not operate a whip system, so our councillors are free to act in the best interests of their constituents.”
UKIP has 27 candidates standing in the Sheffield elections.
A number of people are standing as Independents or without a party in the election, including Jack Carrington in Central ward, Anwar Dirir in Burngreave, John Hesketh in Crookes, Martin Brelsford in Stocksbridge & Upper Don and David Ogle in West Ecclesfield.
Mr Hesketh, a former Liberal Democrat member for Crookes, said: “I believe my experience can be put to use in the service of people who live in Crookes and Crosspool. I know how the Town Hall works and I am not afraid to stand up to council bosses.
“If there is one thing I’ve learnt in my 16 years on the council, it is that you have to be strong willed and determined if you want to get the best for your constituents – and I have a strong track record of doing just that.
“When it comes to Crookes ward, I am the genuine article with no need to pretend I have local ties. I have deep ties and they are longstanding.”