Elected in 2022 Local Elections martin-phipps-local-election-candidate-city

Martin Phipps

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Hi, my name is Martin Phipps, I am one of the Green councillors in City ward, where I live and work, and I am re-running as the Green candidate this May. Outside of being a councillor I am a software developer. I became involved in politics and the Green Party to address inequality and the climate emergency. I am re-running to continue to do what I can in Sheffield and to help people in need.

What do you think makes a good local councillor?

As a councillor I stand up for City ward residents, and work to be a voice of the most vulnerable in our communities. I listen to residents concerns and suggestions and attend community group meetings in Highfield, the city centre and Kelham Island and Neepsend. I work to support community projects, and push for serious action on inequality, air pollution and the climate and nature emergencies. As a Green councillor I am not bound by a party whip and can act in your best interests.

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

Being a voice for local people. If re-elected I will continue to listen to residents and work to make their concerns and suggestions heard by the council, supporting community projects and working to keep residents informed.

We live in one of the areas most affected by air pollution in Sheffield. I will continue to support schemes to improve walking, cycling, bus service and tram services, to reduce air pollution, address the climate emergency and improve health and wellbeing. Grey to Green is a fantastic example of how we can do this by adding green space that people want to come to that supports wildlife and reduces the risk of flooding. We also live in one of the areas with the least green space in the city, protecting the green space we have and reclaiming more areas for green space is a priority for me.

Making the area safer is also a priority for me, working with the council, venues, campaign groups and the police.

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

Due to Tory governments disregard for addressing inequality and the climate emergency we are facing a cost of living crisis. We urgently need to address our fossil fuel reliance, and invest in cheaper green energy and mass insulation. If re-elected I will continue to push for more investment in renewables and insulation programs to reduce cost of heating and carbon emissions.

I would continue to support, and push for more, plans to improve walking, cycling, bus and tram services in Sheffield, as well as pushing for major schemes like a Workplace Parking Levy that would mean millions of investment a year into public and active transport, reducing air pollution, carbon emissions and improving health and wellbeing.

I would continue to push for the council to take a more holistic view on how it’s decisions and policies affect health and wellbeing, and to adopt a Wellbeing Economy, like in New Zealand and Scotland that judges it’s success based on health and wellbeing of their residents.

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

As a City ward resident and councillor this is a really important issue to me. Air pollution is a big problem here and as a city resident that lives next to the inner ring road I take part in the Clean Air Sheffield monitoring of pollution with a pollution monitor that contributes to the map.

I am a big advocate of improving active travel and public transport, and pedestrianisation of the centre where possible. The removal of motor traffic from Pinstone St has had a really positive impact on reducing air pollution in the area and opened up so much more space for people, walking and cycling, and I have publicly backed this alongside my colleagues Ruth Mersereau and Douglas Johnson, and the Sheffield Green group. The permanent plans for the area will add greenery to the centre, better quality surfaces for walking and cycling, and improved bus stops and services, with buses getting through the centre faster improving reliability for bus services across the city. More roads without motor traffic also means more opportunities for more seating outside for cafes, restaurants and bars, building on the positive effects of this we have seen in the last couple years.

It is however important to consider the accessibility in and to the centre. The city centre bus that we have called for for years that is being introduced should help with this, but some private motor access and parking, and in particular blue badge parking, will need to be kept for accessibility purposes. We objected to the council cutting funding to the Shopmobility city centre accessibility scheme when they did, and are supporting the BIDs plans to introduce a new scheme.

In addition plans for further pedestrianisation should be worked through with local businesses, as although I believe these would benefit businesses in the centre, as shopping centres like Leeds and Meadowhall benefit from pedestrianised areas, servicing plans need to be agreed and potential issues worked through.

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

Yes. Poor housing is a big issue and landlords have an important responsibility to make sure their housing they are renting is of good quality. I am a firm believer that houses are for people to live in and shouldn’t be a profit making scheme. The way the housing market operates drives prices up making it harder for people to buy a home because they are competing with people who wish to buy and rent the property for profit.

Sheffield Green Party supports city-wide landlord licensing and we have been arguing for more protection for private tenants in Sheffield. Privately rented housing often inflicts extreme economic and social hardship on the tenants and contributes to a lack of community cohesion in areas of high renting. 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.

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

LACs are good in theory but have a way to go to be effective in practice. The Green Party supports more council resources going into local neighbourhood working because it is really important to engage with the community as much as possible and for communities to have more control over how resources are used in their area, but the process must properly reflect this increased responsibility. We criticised the way the council had steadily reduced its services in the community over many years. However, the announcement about setting up LACs was a political stunt by the previous Labour majority council without any consultation, to try and fend off the public voting for a change in the governance referendum.

It is important that all council services engage with the local community they serve, not just a separate team. LACs need to be properly thought through and set up to really strengthen local conversations and networking with the council.

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

Yes, community wealth building is a great initiative that we have been calling in council for greater use of for years, in particular highlighting the success of the Preston model. I presented an amendment to council on fixing the “leaky bucket” and community wealth building, calling for Sheffield council to use it’s spending power to enrich the local economy with Green councillor Paul Turpin. Over the last year I know Paul has been doing everything he can to further write community wealth building into council procurement and processes in his executive position of Inclusive Economy in the Green Labour co-operative administration.

I believe CWB also offers a great opportunity to address climate change and inequality. Schemes like Sheffield Renewables could be invested in by local organisations’s pension schemes, offering a return on pension investments by growing the amount of renewable energy in Sheffield, and could also be used to fund mass insulation programs.