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I am a Councillor on Sheffield City Council for Arbourthorne ward in Sheffield and a Labour Party activist.

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Speech to Full Council: “Sheffield for Europe – Europe for Sheffield”

On Wednesday, I spoke at the Full Council meeting of Sheffield City Council on the importance of the EU to both Sheffield and Britain.  Below are my remarks – I’m grateful for your thoughts.


When the EU was founded, men and women who had been trying to kill each other just 10 years earlier shook hands and promised there would never again be another European Great war. They kept that promise and from the ashes of war, they built a peace and a solidarity that still binds our continent together today.

Now, the prospect of European countries going to war with each other has diminished and we face another set of challenges: The threat of climate change. global criminal networks, trafficking and people smuggling, mass movement of refugees, tax havens and controlling global finance.

No country on earth – no matter how great – can tackle these issues by itself. Every one of these challenges requires more coordination between countries, more collaboration, more sharing of information and a more international approach. That is what the European Union provides.

Across our country, we can see the impact the EU has had – creating millions of jobs, opening trade and investment, bringing people together and broadening horizons.

Within Sheffield, our landscape is defined by the investment the EU has secured. Just imagine Sheffield without the EU:

  • No Peace Gardens,
  • No Train Station,
  • No Advanced Manufacturing Park,
  • No new bus lanes,
  • No new play equipment, No new woodlands and so on and so on.
  • And now the Fox Valley Retail Development in Stocksbridge, the Grey to Green scheme and the Castle Market project have all secured EU funding and would not have happened without it.

The upcoming referendum is one of the defining political issues of our generation. Those of us who will lead the campaign for Britain to remain a member of the EU have a big job to do in busting media myths and UKIP scaremongering.

This must be a positive campaign. We don’t want Britain to be a small-minded, small-hearted and small-time country.

Britain can only play its rightful role in the world through Europe and with out European partners. We can all be proud to be a Sheffielder, proud to be British and proud to be European.

I’d like to conclude by saying that no government is perfect. The EU isn’t perfect either. But for all its faults, it is the most peaceful, most prosperous and most successful democratic Union in the history of the world.

And I am confident that when the time comes, the people of Sheffield will choose prosperity over poverty, choose partnership over division and choose hope over fear by voting strongly to remain a member of the EU.


Interview with BBC Radio Sheffield on Jeremy Corbyn’s conference speech

Yesterday I was interviewed by Toby X Foster on BBC Radio Sheffield about Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Labour Party conference.
You can listen again below.


Emissions Scandal

Last year I gave evidence to Parliament on the issue of air quality, where we covered the methods car manufacturers use to mask poor air emissions.

This is a truly global scandal. I believe literally millions of customers across continents have been ripped off – I would go as far as to call it the “PPI sandal” of the car industry.

You can see my evidence to the House of Commons committee below – I start at 15:09 – just after Boris Johnson!

Click Here to see the evidence.

The full report is here – which talks at length about the need for a proper testing regime, agreed international standards and the need for real world testing, not just lab trials.

Sheffield’s Response to the Refugee Crisis


A number of constituents – with the full range of views – have contacted me in recent weeks concerning the refugee crisis in Syria and the Council’s response, so I thought I would post the text below.

I appreciate that the position below won’t please everyone and I understand there are different perspectives. But having worked with refugees over a number of years and spoken recently to people who have experienced persecution and abuse and made their way here, I couldn’t support a position that didn’t reflect our common and shared humanity.
Councillor Jack Scott and Councillor Mike Drabble at a meeting in Arbourthorne, saying "Refugees Welcome"

Councillor Jack Scott and Councillor Mike Drabble at a meeting in Arbourthorne, saying “Refugees Welcome”

As the UK’s first City of Sanctuary, we will play our part in the resettlement of Syrian refugees as part of the UK’s response to the refugee crisis.

The British government determines how many refugees are allowed into the country and has committed to take 20,000 people over five years from refugee camps in countries bordering Syria.

In Sheffield we have a strong tradition of helping those fleeing persecution. We were the first authority to take part in the Government’s Gateway Protection Programme and have done so for the last 11 years. We already have a funded agreement to resettle 130 refugees from other countries this year (2015/16).

The current situation is a great concern to us. So we have made an immediate offer to Government to resettle ten to fifteen families from Syria as soon as possible, and are open to further talks with them about playing our part in the future national resettlement programme. This is in addition to our current Gateway agreement.

We have offered to take this number initially as we know we can successfully resettle fifty people immediately. We will continue to play our part in resettlement as part of the national programme after this first phase.

The support provided to people will be directly funded by Central Government. This is essential because we know, through our experiences over the last decade, that we need the resources in place to support people. Support includes housing support, English language teaching, and support in finding work.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Sheffield people wanting to help. We are working with other organisations and local charities to pull together information on how people can volunteer and donate to support people fleeing Syria.

In the meantime people who want to make a donation to help support refugees can do this online through the Refugee Council at www.refugeecouncil.org.uk

I hope this is a useful update. If you require more information, please contact me.
Yvette Cooper’s speech on this issue is also well worth reading.

Interview with Radio Sheffield on Jeremy Corbyn

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Toby Foster about the future of the Labour Party now Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader.


You can listen again here:



Speech to Full Council: Reflection on The Election

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the  national results.

It’s clear now that the votes that cast on 7th May will have profound implications on our country and our city for a generation. Fewer than 10% of Sheffield’s votes were for the Tories.

It’s naturally tempting to crow about the Liberal Democrat’s defeats or the Green’s and UKIP’s failures, but I really don’t want to do that.

Because, for many of us, the prospect of the next five years of true-blue Tory government is a truly nightmare scenario, which fills us with nothing less than dread.

And this new threat requires a different response. We must not spend the next five years throwing rocks at each other and shouting and blaming each other.

We will have to work together across Sheffield’s different sectors, its different communities and its different interests to protect the city that we love – whoever, however and wherever.

Building a city of social justice, equality and fairness is difficult at the best of times.

But unless we bring Sheffield together, it will be nearly impossible with this Tory government, with very real consequences for all our constituents:

  • Our local NHS will probably not survive as we know it – unless we work together.
  • Our education system will become more marketised and fragmented – unless we work together
  • Our Council will continue to lose money as it’s taken from us and given to the South – unless we work together
  • Britain will be marginalised and weakened in Europe – unless we work together.
  • We will see our basic rights at work and our basic rights as humans watered down and sold off – unless we work together.
  • People with disabilities will be vilified and isolated by a cruel welfare system – unless we work together.
  • Our young and the poor will continue to pay for the mistakes of the old and the rich – unless we work together.
  • Our environment and our beautiful local National Park will be fracked, pillaged and polluted – unless we work together.
  • And the people of Sheffield, who work so hard, will not see their living standards improve – unless we work together.

I’d like to finish by saying it’s clear our city now faces many, new, potent threats.

But it’s also clear that there is a renewed resolve amongst local people to work together, to stand up for Sheffield and to protect the city we represent.

This resolve has helped us overcome threats in the past and I am sure it will do so again over the next five years and I will do everything I can – whoever, however and wherever – to protect our city from these threats.



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