Tell us a little bit about yourself
I live in North Sheffield with my wife and our cat. I work at a local steelworks as a project manager, but it was my ‘extracurricular’ activities that drove my desire to get into politics. We have run a community café at Sheffield Cathedral for the past eight years, feeding and chatting with more vulnerable residents. Combined with volunteering at the local foodbank during COVID I saw how much change was needed both locally and nationally to improve lives.
What do you think makes a good local councillor?
A good local councillor is one that is visible, responsive and in touch with the ideas and concerns of the residents. They should be able to challenge the city council and it’s leadership on schemes and policies that will affect the community whilst also being able to facilitate productive dialogue between the residents and the council on issues that might be deemed as controversial but where there is a citywide or countrywide need for these issues to be considered locally.
Tell us three things you're aiming to focus on or achieve for your ward during your term as councillor
If elected I want to hand power back to the residents of East Ecclesfield and facilitate them making the decisions over how the future of the community happens. Primary in this would be listening to their ideas about what they would like to see improved and developed and working with the relevant teams in the council to make them happen. I also support the Local Area Committees as a way for decision making to be localised to the communities that will be benefiting from them.
I want to see developments in Chapeltown and Ecclesfield town centres to both build the local economy and the feeling of community in these areas.
I also want to see better connections between these communities and the wider Sheffield area so that we feel less isolated from Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire region.
Tell us three things you're aiming to focus on or achieve for the city of Sheffield during your term as councillor
My three priorities for Sheffield are ensuring that we have a city that is fit for the future.
1) Firstly we need to think about how we respond to the climate crisis. This will involve a radical overhaul of our public transport network and waste management. We need to be prioritising home insulation and ways that we can empower households to make decisions that are beneficial to our roadmap to net-zero
2) I want to see Sheffield develop into a regional powerhouse that can stand alongside the cities of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. But we must do this in a way that is sympathetic to how Sheffield is structured and how the communities interact with one another.
3) And finally we need to build more houses. Flats, houses and supported living for our older residents and disabled people. But most importantly we must be building these homes with the future in mind. We need to make sure that net-zero technologies are used as extensively as possible when planning permission is sought.
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?
The route to net-zero by 2030 is not a single path, but rather one that looks at a range of issues and solutions and tries to get them working together.
Sheffield is seriously lagging behind other local authorities on how we deal with waste and recycling with only 32% of the waste that we produce going for reuse, recycling or compost. That places us at the 54th worst council out of the 333 in England. For comparison, last year, the top six councils were all controlled by Lib Dems, and I want to see Sheffield up there for the sake of the planet. I want to see a full roll out of the food waste collections that the Lib Dems and Greens championed as well as larger blue bins so families can recycle more of their paper and card waste.
On my walks around the ward I have seen more and more electric vehicles (EVs) on driveways which is a great step everyone can make to reducing their personal carbon footprint. But for some people, charging at home isn’t an option. We want to increase the availability of charging in council owned car parks as well as helping workplaces install charging points to improve the accessibility of EVs to a wider range of residents.
As someone who works in manufacturing and wants to see the proud heritage of this city continue, I welcome the Lib Dem’s commitment to increase the funding of the Low Carbon Audits program. This currently oversubscribed scheme helps small businesses across the city identify and address areas that can help the businesses reduce their carbon footprint. This scheme has already helped manufacturing businesses I know take steps to reduce their impact which, in turn, helps their competitiveness in the market.
We, as a city, need to build more houses and flats to help our younger residents onto the ladder. As part of this I would like to see facilities such as shops, schooling, healthcare and public transport integrated into these developments so that residents can walk and cycle to what they need rather than hopping in a car.
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?
I am part of a one car household both to save money and save the planet. As such, my wife and I often take public transport when needing to get to different parts of the city at the same time.
I would like to see more investment into local cycle routes and the upkeep of paths, but for our older residents, young families and disabled people these aren’t always the most appropriate method of non-car transport.
At the very least Sheffield should be pressuring First and Stagecoach to move away from their diesel fleet and towards either fully electric or hybrid busses, as to prevent air pollution along the routes that they take.
I have family and friends in London, Liverpool and Manchester and I see how effective their transport systems are when I visit and I want to see the same for us in Sheffield. I thank Oliver Coppard for starting the process to introduce bus franchising, something that the Liberal Democrats have been calling for. But we really need to think about how our system works holistically with an approach to radical change.
We should be looking at expanding our tram network to places like Stocksbridge and the Northern General as well as harnessing our local rail stations in Dore, Chapeltown and along the Don Valley to build a fully integrated system. Combine this with a redesign of bus routes and a London style Oyster Card system that allows for tapping in and out and it hopefully will lead to a system that is quick, reliable, and simple. All things that will help people out of their cars and on to public transport.
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?
Prices are going up for everything at the moment and the council is not immune. We want to be paying council staff a fair wage and we don’t want to cheap out on council house repairs, schools or road improvements.
But household finances are also stretched and increasing council tax will only hurt the most vulnerable in the city, so we need to think about how we increase revenue whilst making sure the council isn’t reaching deeper into the pockets of our residents.
Sheffield is seriously lagging behind our northern neighbours in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Hull and we need to think about how we turn this around to get this city growing its economy and attracting investors and visitors. This, in turn, will help increase the revenue that the council receives.
As Liberal Democrats we want to support local areas in how the develop their economies. We want to celebrate and champion our local shopping areas in Ecclesfield and Chapeltown. I have worked with Cllrs Woodcock and Bowden to help encourage our retail community in Ecclesfield to engage with the Economic Recovery Fund that would help regenerate the high street.
I want to see our nightlife and cultural heritage thrive with a strong focus on safety by expanding the use of city ambassadors and community resilience wardens. The Lib Dems have a great record on this with both Tramlines and the Food Festival being started under the previous Lib Dem administration.
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?