Elected in 2022 Local Elections karen-mcgowan-labour-councillor-birley

Karen McGowan

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I have been a local Councillor since 2010. I grew up and went to school in Birley, moved to Frecheville when I married and now live in Hackenthorpe, so I know the ward really well. I love working with all our volunteers and residents, it is what makes Birley Ward a fantastic place to live and work. The number of active groups we have is testament to the community spirit that thrives here. It is to be applauded and never to be taken for granted.

What do you think makes a good local councillor?

I listening to peoples concerns and I am passionate about the Birley Ward as its where I live and grew up. As a local councillor I have undertaken walking surgeries with my colleagues giving residents the opportunity to raise issues with us. I might not always be able to achieve what a person wants but I do promise to try my best.

Tell us three things you're aiming to focus on or achieve for your ward during your term as councillor

  • A good education for your young people and more/improved activities for our young people to do outside of education so they thrive as young citizens
  • More decent homes and safe neighbourhoods for people to live in. To continue to work on anti-social behaviour (ASB) by working together: residents, Sheffield City Council Housing, Police, Councillors and other partners we will tackle these issues.
  • To support our local community groups from our volunteer run libraries, litter picking groups, lunch clubs and those providing activities for our young people and many more.

Tell us three things you're aiming to focus on or achieve for the city of Sheffield during your term as councillor

  • Supporting residents through the cost of living crisis
  • More affordable, high standard Council homes
  • work to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour with enforcement officers in every part of the city, supported by a safer neighbourhood team and an even greater focus on preventative work.

Transport: “Air pollution contributes to 500 deaths a year in Sheffield. Living alongside a busy road carries the same risk as passively smoking 10 cigarettes a day.” https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/cleanair. Supported by better public transport and disabled accessibility, do you think private motor traffic should eventually be excluded from Sheffield city centre?

  • Yes
  • Unsure
  • No

If you'd like to add details on your position, please do so here

We need to still have public transport travelling around the city centre to give access to those those with disabilities and our elderly. Labour’s manifesto will invest in bringing back the Freebee Bus – to help get people around the city centre – and ensure that once again people can easily get to the top of Fargate

Housing: "The introduction of Selective Licensing can bring widespread benefits to the local community. In particular it will ensure that all private rented property within the designated area is safe and well managed" www.sheffield.gov.uk/selectivelicensing. Do you think Landlord Licensing in Sheffield should be extended, from currently applying to Abbeydale Road, Chesterfield Road and London Road, to covering more wards?

  • Yes
  • Unsure
  • No

If you'd like to add details on your position, please do so here

However, there is a cost to doing this so it would need to be budgeted for.

Local Democracy: “The primary purpose of the Local Area Committees (LACs) is to promote the involvement of local people in the democratic process and to bring decision making closer to local people.” www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/your-city-council/local-area-committees. Do you think Local Area Committees should be further developed?

  • Yes
  • Unsure
  • No

If you'd like to add details on your position, please do so here

Labour in Sheffield have brought in the LACs to make the council more responsive to local needs, and rooting council services at the most local level – so that issues are not only acted on quicker, but so that preventative measures can be used most effectively. We have only just had our first year of the LAC’s and they need to be fully established along with the councils new Committee system that is coming in after May 2022. We can then start look at what more they need/can do. As always any cost implications have to be worked through.

Local Economy: "Community wealth building (CWB) is a people-centred approach to local economic development, which redirects wealth back into the local economy, and places control and benefits into the hands of local people." https://www.gov.scot/policies/cities-regions/community-wealth-building. Do you think Sheffield City Council should support community wealth building?

  • Yes
  • Unsure
  • No

If you'd like to add details on your position, please do so here

Sheffield Labour’s manifesto wants to go further with a ‘Community Wealth Building Charter’.

We are committed to long-term collaboration between the city’s anchor institutions, supporting shared ‘Community Wealth Building’ goals to commit to fair employment, opportunities for development, growing the local economy, supporting small businesses and the voluntary sector, and to work collaboratively to take climate action and deliver clean growth for the entire region. We want to see all employers paying the Real Living Wage, increase work security, spend more with local suppliers in South Yorkshire, and empower employees to be informed and involved in decisionmaking. As part of this funding, we will also look at how we keep the excess energy from the district heating network and explore options around a energy storage facility.