The ‘Wybourn lass’ leads the council

Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian'Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman MP (left), stands with Labour supporters on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, on Friday 6 May 2011, the day after the local elections, and Labour got back into power in the city. Labour's new Leader of Sheffield Council is Councillor Julie Dore (right).
Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian'Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman MP (left), stands with Labour supporters on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, on Friday 6 May 2011, the day after the local elections, and Labour got back into power in the city. Labour's new Leader of Sheffield Council is Councillor Julie Dore (right).
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AFTER watching the Sheffield half marathon on Sunday, Julie Dore was on her way home when she passed the Wybourn estate.

It was a reminder of where she had come from and instilled in her a sense of pride and achievement – that “a little lass from the Wybourn” could become leader of the council.

Now she says she is determined to encourage other people to adopt a similar aspirational approach to reach their full potential.

Following in the footsteps of her mentor, the late Jan Wilson, Coun Dore is now leading a Labour council with a majority of 14, with the aim of promoting the type of policies that she believes can help others in Sheffield.

An immediate list of priorities includes “a clear commitment to making sure that Sheffield is a business-friendly city” and a pledge “to ensure that as many young people in Sheffield as possible are given the opportunity to enter the world of paid employment and do not become part of a culture of worklessness”.

Already Labour has said that it will set aside £500,000 for a Youth Employment Fund to offer apprenticeships for 16-to -19-year-olds – plans that will move forward “as quickly as possible”.

“I have spoken to many people who are extremely worried about the futures of their children and grandchildren,” said Coun Dore.

“They want to see real action taken to try to create job opportunities for young people.”

Likewise, promises to allocate an extra £265,000 for the voluntary, community and faith sector will be honoured, as will the saving of ten police community safety officers’ jobs, after 25 were due to go in the 2011/12 budget.

The new Labour council leader added: “We know that Sheffield faces enormous challenges in the coming years. I want to assure people that Labour will be a strong administration to lead Sheffield through this difficult time and take the city forward.”

Her critics are not convinced that she will carry the authority to steer the authority through such difficult times – that she lacks the experience to make the really tough decisions and is not as media savvy as former Lib Dem leader Paul Scriven.

The 50-year-old mother-of-two, a councillor for Arbourthorne, insists that she has the necessary Sheffield steel, having got to the top through dedication and hard work after leaving Hurlfield School at 16 with a handful of O-levels to become a wages clerk at Gleeson Construction.

Further education helped her to realise her potential and she has worked recently as a senior manager with Yorkshire Housing Association.

Her experiences as a mother have further forged her character and beliefs.

Her younger son, Tom, has autism, and she learned how to fight for his rights.

Coun Dore has had many political rows with Coun Scriven but she has paid tribute to the way he too has worked his way up from humble beginnings.

As the new Labour team faces up to huge challenges, she can at least be spared a moment’s reflection of her own achievement.

“It’s a proud occasion for me, but I also share that pride with everybody who has supported me.”

Now comes the real test.