Elected in 2023 Local Elections Ben Miskell Sheffield Local Election Candidate Park Arbourthorne

Ben Miskell

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I have served the public my whole adult life, both in education as a secondary school teacher and as a city councillor representing Park and Arbourthorne.

I am currently Labour’s spokesperson for Economic Development, Skills and Culture and am standing for re-election with a strong track record of fighting on behalf of residents.

I pledge to continue working tirelessly to make Arbourthorne, Gleadless, Heeley Green and Norfolk Park a fairer, safer and greener place for everyone.

What do you think makes a good local councillor?

Local councillors must be campaigners, problem solvers and advocates for the people that they represent. They need to stand up for the most vulnerable and demand public services that work for them. I have held myself to these high standards as an elected representative and I am proud of my record in action. Whether it’s leading the successful fight to save Norfolk Park Health Centre from closure, securing funding for vital community projects or advocating for good quality homes all in our ward.

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

1) I want every child growing up to have the best start in life – we need a Labour council, working with a Labour government to improve life chances and eradicate poverty. I will demand good quality youth services, better support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and the best schools.

2) I will support the most vulnerable in our ward by ensuring that adult social care is prioritised, calling out instances where services are poor and being the voice for those who are too often voiceless. I will work tirelessly to bring funding to projects that fight social isolation.

3) I will tackle crime and anti-social behaviour by continuing to do what I do best: bringing the community together when times are tough, and demanding action from South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield City Council to make our area a safer place to live. The lives of too many residents in Park and Arbourthorne are blighted by crime and anti-social behaviour, which is unacceptable.

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

It is scandalous that a child growing up in a more affluent part of our city will live a lifespan that is on average 10 years shorter than a youngster starting life in a poorer part of Sheffield. Austerity and a Tory cost-of-living crisis have widened existing inequalities in our city.

1) I will prioritise efforts to make Sheffield a more equitable city, working relentlessly to tackle discrimination and doing all that I can to remove the barriers that prevent Sheffielders from achieving their potential. Every child must have the best start in life and everyone in our city should have the best care that they need throughout their life.

2) A Labour council, working with a Labour government will grow our economy and share the wealth that is created more evenly. To do that I want to see a strategic economic plan – an industrial policy for Sheffield, that builds on our successes and allows our city and people to excel. It must be a plan that prioritises the rapid reduction of our collective carbon emissions and ensures that the poorest don’t suffer from the effects of the climate emergency. I want to see affordable, sustainable, decent homes built that people are proud to live in.

3) I want to ensure that Sheffield City Council is close to the citizens that it serves, by delivering services at a more local level and working in a way that builds trust throughout our city.

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 proud that Sheffield Labour has pledged to introduce a net zero test on all council spending to ensure that it is meeting its climate targets. To help us get to net zero, we need to be ambitious for our city, by expanding the District Heating Network and supporting community energy schemes. I will call for more retrofitting of homes and push to adopt ‘fabric first’ planning policies that eliminate domestic fossil fuel burning in new developments and make homes more energy efficient. All homes built in Sheffield should be built in a manner that reduces heat loss and saves residents money.

Working with South Yorkshire’s Labour Mayor, I am proud that Sheffield Labour will bring re-skilling and training opportunities to Sheffield, building a new workforce to deliver carbon reduction projects. We also remain committed to getting buses under public control, so people have genuine options to avoid private car dependency through a public transport network that is fit for purpose.

As a teacher working in schools, I want to see Sheffield City Council do even more to support students, teachers and schools on their climate education journey. I wish to see greater support for the South Yorkshire School’s Climate Conference, which does some amazing work nurturing the next generation of active citizens and every child having access to climate education as part of good quality Citizenship Education in all schools.

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?

We are steadfast in our commitment to bring buses into public control, like we have with the tram network. Ensuring communities are served by good bus services that get people where they need to go, at an affordable price, is vital. Working with South Yorkshire’s Labour Mayor, I want to see our city move towards planning for the next 100 years of the Supertram network, linking even more communities together with light rail and securing central government funding to take the tram train out onto the heavy rail network.

I support active travel and low traffic neighbourhood schemes, but know that these need public buy-in to be successful. Sheffield Labour will work with communities to ensure schemes are delivering for and with residents. I want to see more schemes like ‘Grey to Green’ delivered, opening up more areas of the city and making them more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists alike. I am also concerned about cyclist safety and would prioritise efforts to make our roads safer for cyclists, pushing for specialist cycling infrastructure where appropriate.

Our city also needs good quality links across South Yorkshire, the UK and wider world. As such, I am proud to be part of a party that has pledged to renationalise the rail network. Rail travel needs to be faster, cheaper, and more reliable and will be under a future Labour government.

The closure of Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) was a betrayal of the people of South Yorkshire by businessmen who showed no regard for the people of South Yorkshire. We have also been let down by central government, who refused to step in and intervene to protect this strategic piece of infrastructure. DSA is our gateway to the world and should be reopened. South Yorkshire residents and visitors are now forced to travel further afield to airports in Manchester, Leeds and the East Midlands, causing greater emissions and prolonging travel times.

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?

We need to be ambitious for Sheffield. A core commitment in Sheffield Labour’s manifesto is to grow our economy, which will get more money into people’s pockets. Key to this is ensuring that Sheffield develops a local industrial strategy, attracting investment, nurturing homegrown startups and talent, as well as creating well-paid, unionised jobs that provide the sort of dignity people should expect from employment. Sheffield City Council needs to take an active role in securing this future.

The Economic Recovery Fund (ERF) is an ongoing project proposed and funded by Labour’s budget amendments over the past two municipal years. It has helped to restore our high streets and assisted local businesses to recover from the pandemic. Schemes like these show how Labour in power would seek to grow the economy in Sheffield. With a Labour government in power in Westminster, we could do so much more.

In growing the economy, I support Sheffield Labour’s ambition to create thousands of new jobs in green manufacturing through the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District and I want to make Sheffield a global hub for sporting and cultural events. This will involve delivering a Gallery of the North and creating a new regional flagship art space. As Labour’s Spokesperson on Economic Development, Skills, and Culture, I led efforts to bring Eurovision 2023 to Sheffield. That bid shows how we can be much more ambitious for our city, uniting people in a shared goal.

I am standing on a platform that clearly lays out our ambitious vision for the city. You can find out more about Our Plan for Sheffield in our manifesto.

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?

  • Yes
  • Unsure
  • No

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

Everyone deserves a decent home and those renting need more protection from rogue landlords. That’s why I am proud that a future Labour government will end so-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions and introduce a Private Renters’ Charter.

Sheffield Labour is committed to using all powers available to improve housing standards throughout the city, whether for social tenants or private renters – including implementing selective licensing schemes. These schemes have proven successful at promoting clear expectations, targets and metrics, as well as transparent and robust enforcement measures. Licensing reduces the risk of illegal property conversions, poor fire safety and poor management standards. I want to see more regulation of the private rented sector in our city.

View the Labour and Co-operative Party policies