Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m Ruth Mersereau and I’m one of three Green councillors in City Ward. I was elected in 2019 and gave up my job to concentrate on working as a councillor.
Prior to this, I spent most of my working life in temporary/contract admin/secretarial work, and also spent ten years running my own piano-teaching business.
I joined the Green Party to try to address unfairness, inequality and the climate emergency.
What do you think makes a good local councillor?
Knowing the area well and being out talking to people and listening to the issues that they raise. Supporting residents in improving their neighbourhoods.
Being reliable, responding to enquiries, and keeping people informed of progress. Being persistent, and keeping working on issues, pushing for a positive outcome for residents.
Being active in the Council, preparing in detail for meetings, thinking hard about the issues and standing up for residents in the decision-making process.
Tell us three things you're aiming to focus on or achieve for your ward during your term as councillor
City Ward is one of the wards with the least green space in the city. Improving and protecting the existing green space and reclaiming more areas for green space is one of my priorities.
Keep pushing for better living/accommodation standards in public/private accommodation and in new planning applications.
Keep pushing for cleaner air, cleaner streets, protected historic buildings and thoughtful planning. There’s a lot to be done to improve the cleanliness of the area, by making sure the Council/Amey are properly meeting their obligations to keep the streets clean and bins emptied regularly.
Tell us three things you're aiming to focus on or achieve for the city of Sheffield during your term as councillor
Keep campaigning to secure substantial investment in the city’s public transport and its walking and cycling provision. It needs to be easier, safer and more pleasant to get around the city on foot, bike and by public transport.
Keep campaigning for more funding for better advice services and support the most vulnerable with more hardship support.
Keep pushing for proper planning regulation and green space management.
Environment: Sheffield City Council has stated that to reach its aim of net-zero by 2030, "change will be difficult... we will have to take hard decisions as a council on behalf of the city". If elected, what changes will you make to enable Sheffield to reach net zero by 2030?
I am one of eighty-four councillors at Sheffield City Council. Since the switch to the more democratic committee system, no councillor can make decisions on their own. However, if re-elected, I will argue for the following:
Incorporating solar panels into all new council buildings.
Creating a Local Area Energy Plan for Sheffield that has the buy-in of the wider community and leads to a local area energy planning process.
Looking at best practice from around the country and applying it in Sheffield. In Nottingham, the council is retrofitting council homes to a very high standard to ensure residents have a comfortable home that is affordable to heat.
Finding new sources of funding to ensure we can make improvements to public transport, and enable more cycling and walking.
Encouraging wider community investment in local renewable energy projects through a range of measures including Community Share Offers & Municipal Bonds.
Having best practice in Planning to support renewable energy installations by developers and to create a low carbon energy supply.
Encouraging renewable and energy efficiency skills by making links between the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors with appropriate local training providers
And the Government needs to be a partner and be aware of its role to help Sheffield City Council achieve Net Zero.
Transport: Sheffield City Council, and the Mayoral Combined Authority, have been awarded multi-million pound pots to improve cycling and walking networks. What are your priorities for transport infrastructure in Sheffield?
Properly funded public transport and active travel is essential – Sheffield Greens have produced a vision document on transport ‘Get Sheffield Moving’.
We need quality public transport, as well as safe walking, wheeling and cycling routes to enable people to travel around conveniently, affordably, reliably and safely. It is important to recognise that transport is an equality issue & that 29% of people in Sheffield do not have access to a car. (In parts of City Ward, 80% of residents don’t have access to a car.)
We need to ensure that pedestrians, wheelchair users, people with visual impairment and parents with pushchairs can safely use pavements and that is why we want strong enforcement against pavement parking.
Our vision for walking and cycling is:
Make walking safer by removing obstacles from pavements (including parked cars) and properly enforcing parking laws.
Give pedestrians priority at crossings, provide wider pavements and clean, well-lit paths.
A safe and convenient network of fully-protected cycleways that connect homes, workplaces, shops & leisure areas.
Secure cycle parking at all public amenities including parks, shopping areas, libraries & leisure facilities.
Facilitate on-street cycle hangars according to local demand.
cycling that’s fully integrated with public transport, including spaces/racks for bikes on trams, bike racks on priority (commuter) bus services, and cycle parking at interchanges.
Air that is clean and safe to breathe.
Local Economy: Sheffield City Council has a forecasted cumulative budget gap of £111million by 2026/27. How would you raise revenue for the city going forward?
The funding settlement the Council receives from the government is unfair to Sheffield. The Council has had a 50% cut in government funding since 2010 in real terms. So our first ask is for the Government to restore proper funding for local public services.
There are however things that we can still do locally to help the Council’s finances.
We would maximise the amount of renewable energy that we generate on council land and buildings and invest in energy efficiency measures in public buildings. Rising energy prices have made the case for renewables and energy efficiency even more compelling than before. We would also seek to use Council buildings more effectively to reduce costs.
The introduction of an Employers Workplace Parking Levy will not only provide valuable investment for public transport but will also ease pressure on other council budgets. Last year in Nottingham, the levy raised over £9 million. It has paid for improvements and extensions to tram services, improved bus services and better cycling and walking infrastructure. It has also helped support the introduction of an electric taxi fleet, over 200 electric charging points and reduced congestion and air pollution. This money would free up council resources that instead can be used to support other hard pressed budgets like Adult Social care.
We also need to work ever closer to the health sector to work more effectively together to reduce our costs and provide better services.
Housing: On 14th December 2022 the council adopted a motion asking the housing policy committee to consider adopting further selective licensing throughout the city. 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?
If you'd like to add details on your position, please do so here
Landlord licensing means saving tenants from poorly maintained homes and creating a level playing field where landlords are rewarded for investing in good quality accommodation.
Sheffield Green Party supports city-wide landlord licensing and we have been arguing for more protection for private tenants in Sheffield.
Green councillors have pressed for more jobs to go into the Council’s Private Sector Housing Department.