Elected in 2023 Local Elections Alison Norris candidate for Sheffield Local Election Broomhill

Alison Norris

Tell us a little bit about yourself

As a midwife I’m proud my team gives great care, but I also know what short staffing costs us. My mum was born before the NHS; my grandad struggled to pay the doctor’s bill. We can’t go back to that. In 2013 I could see a GP, now it takes an hour to join a phone queue! I think Labour can rebuild services.

My children, in their 20s, don’t have the opportunities I had. They face higher costs, lower wages, a climate crisis we aren’t tackling. I’m standing as a councillor to help change that.

I can be contacted directly on [email protected]


What do you think makes a good local councillor?

I think you have to:
1) Listen well and be honest about what you can and can’t do.
2) Check your facts and have a good understanding of council systems and budgets.
3) Be persistent and keep people up to date about where you have got to with sorting problems.
4) Work with other organisations like the Police and the NHS, and with local volunteers and community groups, to back their work and get the most out of limited resources.
5) Challenge organisations to change when services are poor.

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

I know many people in my ward are facing urgent problems, like damp homes and anti-social neighbours. I will work with experienced sitting councillors to sort individual problems, but I think if we can get more action on improving services, from policing to youth work to whole building upgrades, we help stop these problems coming back. My priorities are:

1) More youth work. Birley already has a popular new youth club. I will find out what young people want in Handsworth and Woodhouse and work with officers to use some of our increased youth services to help get it.

2) Better housing. I will back the TARAs, help to set up a local Housing Advisory Panel, chase improvements in housing repairs and retrofitting for better energy efficiency, and work to stop anti-social behaviour.

3) Changing the South East district heating network to renewables, to provide cheaper energy to homes and businesses. See the environment question in section B for details.

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

My biggest personal reason for standing for council is to help make sure we do more to:
1) Retrofit our homes so they are well insulated and we can afford to switch to electric heating.
2) Change to renewable energy we control.

I also want to do this in a way that involves us as home owners and tenants, and makes our local economy stronger by providing jobs with a future.

I will work with other councillors, officers and voluntary and community groups to:
1) Carry out whole building improvements like the ones planned for Edward Street flats in Walkley.
2) Improve the council’s own housing services, including helping to make sure the big improvement work planned in Gleadless Valley involves tenants well.
3) Increase training and apprenticeships, learning from schemes like the Rotherham Skills Academy’s new Domestic Retrofit course.
4) Make sure South Yorkshire building firms can bid for council contracts, to keep more money in our local economy.
5) Work with the South Yorkshire Combined Mayoral Authority to share information, skills and risks so we can manage bigger projects than Sheffield could do alone.
6) Increase local renewable energy generation.

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?

My focus is retrofitting housing and increasing local renewable energy generation.

I know the district heating network in South East Sheffield is currently based on large gas boilers that will soon need replacing. The council leader and officers are already looking at renewable energy alternatives, and I want to help make that happen. For example, I am excited by a council scheme in Gateshead that uses large heat pumps taking water from abandoned coal mines to heat homes and public buildings. They plan to expand to sell to private homes and businesses.

This is the kind of thing I want to get to happen in Sheffield.

I think that Labour councillors are getting to grips with the scale of changes we need, and also the need to communicate better and work more effectively with Sheffield residents and with the Mayoral Combined Authority to make these changes.

You can read our manifesto here. It includes plans to:
1) Increase retrofitting.
2) Use the council’s planning powers to require a fabric first approach to new build housing, so it doesn’t need gas central heating.
3) Work across the region with the Mayoral Combined Authority to improve training and transport.
4) Continue to contract more work with local suppliers.

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?

My focus is housing and energy, so I rely more on people who focus on transport to tell me what’s needed. I do use my bike as my main transport, and I am seeing improvements in Sheffield cycle lanes. I am also starting to see families and businesses use e-cargo bikes. I really welcome Labour’s pledge to renationalise the railways, as I put my bike on the train to get to work; service cancellations are a regular problem and fares just keep increasing.

Using cars less will make us healthier as well as cutting carbon emissions, but we need much better public transport for this to be practical. Also many people don’t have cars and are stuck with expensive and unreliable services. People remember Sheffield’s excellent and cheap municipal bus service; it can be done. I support Mayor Oliver Coppard’s work to get a franchising system, similar to Transport for London, as a first big step towards restoring bus services.

Conflicts over traffic reduction schemes have shown how important it is to involve residents in designing and trialling changes. Labour councillors in Nether Edge and Crookes have worked hard to change plans based on concerns, without losing sight of the safety, health and climate benefits of cutting congestion and car use. There are several excellent ‘school streets’ initiatives across the city already improving walking routes, and I really support council officers working with active residents’ groups to produce local solutions.

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?

Sheffield has managed huge budget cuts due to cuts in central government funding, and we won’t get the money we really need without a change in national government.

That said there are still important things we can do to increase our revenue and to use what we do have better. Becoming a better landlord is one example of making more efficient use of what we have.

I also think we need to learn from other councils who have tried innovative ways to increase revenue. For example, why has Gateshead’s district energy scheme (see section B) gone from strength to strength while Nottingham’s Robin Hood Energy hit serious problems? I strongly support bigger projects like housing retrofitting and renewable energy being developed as a South Yorkshire partnership, because that has worked best in other regions and it shares resources and risk.

Improving the local economy is not something the city council can do alone, so I also support the community wealth building approach, working with other big organisations like the NHS and the Universities to buy more local goods and services and provide well paid, unionised jobs. Sheffield has already increased the local economy by more than £80 million using this approach, I want to help us do more.

Labour also has other plans, including increasing jobs in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, making the city a hub for sporting and cultural events and developing a local industrial strategy. Read about them in our manifesto here.

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

I know from talking to landlords who give a good service that they want bad landlords tackled, too. Poor housing is dangerous and makes you ill. In London research shows landlord licensing has improved health.

Poorly insulated housing is miserable to live in and wastes a lot of heat. The more we can do to improve this, the better our lives get right now and the better we protect our future by cutting carbon emissions.

I would like landlord licencing to cover the whole city but I know we don’t have the staff to do that currently. I think Labour’s proposal for a rolling programme is a good compromise.

We also have to improve our service to council tenants. I welcome Labour’s plans for reorganising the service to get repairs done quicker, and for Housing Advisory Panels to help tenants get heard. I will work hard to make sure these improvements happen.

View the Labour and Co-operative Party policies