Air Quality Interview – BBC Radio Sheffield

I was interviewed by Radio Sheffield on the government’s shabby, shoddy, weak and wobbly announcements on Air Quality.

You can listen to the interview below.


My Reflection on Referendum Result: Speech to Full Council

*** Check Against Actual Delivery ***

The events of the last two weeks have clearly caused anxiety and distress for a number of people living in Sheffield. We all now have a role to play in helping our city come together after a difficult and divisive period, especially as it is clear that if we leave the EU we will be financially worse off–both individually and as a city overall. We have to reflect carefully on this result and respect the result.

We find ourselves in the ludicrous position where the vote for Brexit was caused by inequality and could now end up worsening inequality.

Sheffield City Region was scheduled to receive over £180 million through to 2020, in addition to the £1 billion we have received over the last 15 years.

Of course, as a city, we will and we must do everything we can to secure as much of that money as possible. But nobody should think it is likely we will secure all of it – or even most of it.

This is the harsh reality of Brexit. The manner in which the Leaders of the Leave campaign have behaved is atrocious and a total abdication of their responsibilities. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The UK government hasn’t acted much better. It is simply not good enough to say that they hope EU nationals will be allowed to stay in Britain.

These are people who have put down roots here, with children, families, caring responsibilities, who pay taxes and contribute to our economy and society. They deserve much better than being used by the Government as bargaining chips.

So for the moment, I want people from Europe who are living, learning and working in our city – some of whom are here today – to know that they are just as welcome here as they were before the referendum. European citizens make a huge contribution to both the economy and the vibrancy of our city, especially at our universities, and we are glad to have them contributing in this way.

In the global age, our city’s diversity is a strength not a weakness. We are them and they are us.

It is also quite obvious that many people feel that the economy doesn’t work for them; and we have to redouble our efforts to address the anxieties and insecurities that people understandably feel as a result of rapid global change.

I’d like to conclude by saying that Sheffield will always be a vibrant, welcoming and European city. The referendum result won’t change that.

I am sure that this city will not tolerate any actions that sow division in our communities or play people against each other. Certainly the Council won’t.

Sheffield has always prided itself on being a welcoming, inclusive and friendly city and we must all do everything we can to nuture and protect this treasured reputation.

Thank you to city’s volunteers

It’s Volunteers Week and a great time to find out about volunteering opportunities in the city, as well as thanking all volunteers like Alex who make Sheffield wonderful.


Alex Thomson helps young people with learning disabilities

Alex Thompson, age 24:

Alex is Special Olympics GB athlete who helps young people with learning disabilities take part in sports. He won a gold medal for basketball at last year’s Special Olympics in Los Angeles and has a learning disability himself.

Alex has been volunteering from a young age. At 16 he became the first person with a learning disability to be a member of SAYLs (Sheffield Academy for Young Leaders in Sport). He now volunteers at The Burton Street Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with disabilities, and every Friday helps people play sport.

Alex said: “I volunteer to help people with special needs. I like being part of a team and helping out. I like being with all the staff and clients – they’re my friends as well.”
Alex is taking part in next year’s Special Olympic National Games which are being held in Sheffield from 7 to 11 August 2017.

The city will see around 2,600 competitors and an additional 6,000 of their family and friends all staying here for a week.

900 volunteers are needed to help make The Games a success. More than 160 people have already signed up. Visit to volunteer and be part of something special.

Find out about volunteering opportunities in Sheffield:

Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) promotes and supports volunteering within the city. It helped 2,300 people volunteer last year.
To celebrate volunteer week and its 90 birthday, VAS is holding a Volunteer Recruitment Fair and street party on Thursday 9 June at The Circle on Rockingham Lane in Sheffield (S1 4FW)

  • The recruitment fair runs from 10.00am to 3.00pm
  • The street party runs from 12.30 to 3pm

Sue White, Chief Executive at VAS, said, “The value of volunteering in our City can’t be underestimated and we are delighted to be celebrating the work of volunteers as part of national Volunteer Week, and VAS’s 90th Anniversary.

“Volunteering makes a huge contribution to our City’s economy – an estimated £500 million per year. And added to that is the social value in terms of the individuals and organisations who are helped and supported, and the value to individual volunteers themselves in building skills and confidence, and improving wellbeing. All that is certainly worth celebrating!”

Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Community Services at Sheffield City Council, added: “I would like to thank everyone who volunteers in Sheffield and provides valuable support in a huge number of areas, from libraries to lunch clubs, literacy, litter and more.

“There are lots of ways people can get involved and help support their city. It’s rewarding work and can make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Visit or call VAS on 0114 253 6600 to find out about volunteering opportunities in Sheffield

Community Centre given new lease of life

A local community centre has been given a new lease of life with a refurbishment and WiFi installed in the building.


Funded by Sheffield City Council, work took place at High Green Miners’ Welfare Hall to encourage more groups to use the centre.

New computer classes have already been set up and will be run by the Heeley Development Trust.

Now local councillors and council officers are inviting people to an open day on Tuesday 7 June at 11am, with entertainment and refreshments.

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for community services at Sheffield City Council, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to fund this work. The centre looks fantastic and I hope people in High Green enjoy using it.

“Local councillors worked with residents to identify priorities for the area and funded the refurbishment from their local ward pot. I’m very glad we’ve been able to work with them to help people get online and tackle loneliness and social isolation. It’s brilliant that a new computer class is already set up. I hope everyone enjoys the open day.”

The refurbishment cost £13,384.56 and included installing WiFi, decorating the outside of the building, putting in new windows, resurfacing the car park and providing new signs.

Local resident, Gina Hutchinson said “It is great to see the improvements in the Miners, the buildings looking brighter. We love this building, and it’s looking loved again”
“The new broadband in the centre is already making a difference, and we are looking forward to new computer classes”

Local choir, High Spirits Singers, will be performing at the open day, which will be attended by local councillors. Everyone is welcome to attend from 11am.
To book the hall or to enquire about rates for hire, you can contact the SCC Community Buildings Team on 0114 243 0687.

Budget Speech to Full Council

For six, long, hard years, our city has been attacked, undermined and patronised by this government.


Let’s be clear. The LibDem amendment is an attempt to re-write history. But we remember:

  • This isn’t the first year of the government’s brutal cuts to Sheffield City Council – it is the sixth year
  • This isn’t the first year of a government demonising public sector workers and attacking people who work so hard for our city – it is the sixth year
  • This isn’t the first year the government has imposed cruel sanctions, the vicious bedroom tax and humiliating foodbanks – it is the sixth year

The people of Sheffield will never ever forget that you created this Tory government six years ago and that you then did absolutely everything in your power to sustain it and nothing to stop it.

But despite the pressures and the Tories’ and LibDems cuts we’ve faced, our budget today is rooted in our proud Labour values of solidarity, equality and fairness.

This budget will help move Sheffield forward, so that our great city stands tall and proud as the nation’s cleanest, greenest and safest community. Because we know that if you believe in Sheffield you have to believe in all of Sheffield and not just a few at the top.

So as part of this budget, this Labour Council is:

  • Working with businesses to create the dynamic and enterprising economy that we need, by building Europe’s first Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation District, which will be a crucible of the high-skill, high-wage green-collar jobs of the future
  • We’re planning to build 1,000 new council homes and giving families safety and security by cracking down on rogue private sector landlords, who do so much damage in our communities
  • We’re investing to become a truly living wage council and we are on our way to becoming the first living wage city, now with tax incentives to make sure work is a real route out of poverty
  • We’re protecting our green heritgate for future generations by planting 50,000 new trees and 17 new and expanded woodland areas – more than any other time in living memory.
  • We’re achieving record GCSE and A-level results, with the narrowest ever gap between the richest and the poorest parts of Sheffield, with far fewer failing schools and far more outstanding ones
  • And we’re building brand new schools and extending educational opportunity by delivering 400 apprentices for those who most need help to get on.

This budget sets out actions in all these areas and more. This budget builds on our proud record and will deliver even better things for Sheffield.

So let me conclude by saying that despite losing almost 50% of our money, This Labour budget does everything within our power to reduce poverty, tackle inequality and liberate the people of Sheffield from the injustices that far too many of them still face.

Do not be in any doubt: Labour will always stand up for Sheffield.

Despite six years of an incompetent, vicious and uncaring government that has cut us to the bone and then even deeper, this Labour budget sets out a vision which will help build a city we can all be proud of – a united city, where nobody is shut out, nobody is excluded and nobody is told that they are not important.

Where every single person can achieve their potential and has a stake in the future of our great city.

That’s Labour’s vision for Sheffield, which is reflected in this budget and that’s why I’m proud to support it.

Thank you very much

100 Days to Go

In 100 days, the people of Abourthorne, Gleadless Townend, Heeley and Norfolk Park (indeed all of Sheffield) have a big choice to make.

The whole Council – all 84 seats – will be elected anew. Every voter will have three votes for the Council. (From these 84 Councillors, a Leader and Cabinet will be chosen. I will have more to say about the challenges facing Sheffield as a whole in future posts.)

Every elector will also have a vote on another ballot paper for South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

I’m both very proud and extremely humbled to have been chosen by local Labour members as one of the candidates for the newly named Park and Arbourthorne Ward. Other than the name, this ward is essentially identical to the existing “Arbourthorne Ward” that I’ve represented since 2010.

Across the community, I can see the big, positive differences that we have made together – committed local residents, working with passionate and effective Councillors as part of a Council that is in-touch and committed to improving our communities:

The building – finally – of new social housing around Errington and Algar roads, even though the Government stole all the regeneration money that was meant to fund this vital project.

Working with existing local residents as we build brand new homes in Norfolk Park – with many many more to come in the next year.

The playground that we managed to get built on East Bank Road when everybody said there was no money and the improvements we’re pushing for to the community pond on Eastern Avenue.

Fighting to secure the big building project that’s underway at the moment at Gleadless Primary School and the new after school club that we are about to build at Norfolk Park Community Primary School.

For me, being a Councillor is about being proactive and available, building strong partnerships with community groups and always standing up for your constituents. As a local Councillor, I am passionate about bringing people together, with a vision for the future of our area and I’m assertive in standing up to this government and its unfairness.

But there are big challenges too and I see that every day, as poverty and inequality increase. The cruel cuts and deliberate ideology of the government have had a far greater impact on our community than on many others over the last six years – both in terms of people’s income and also the public services they rely on.

And almost every day, I help constituents affected by welfare cuts, petty bureaucracy and really vicious sanctions. These are increasing poverty and making daily life more of a struggle. It’s likely that over the next five years this government will attempt to impose even more hardship on residents in Arbourthorne.

So that means we need to do even more in the coming months. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader has brought a renewed energy and sharper focus to Labour’s campaigning, especially in Sheffield. Membership in the Park and Arbourthorne ward has more than doubled and there is a renewed sense of outrage, determination and action.

Day in, day out, being a good Councillor is a 24/7 job and it is a huge privilege to stand up for people who need your help and to contribute to making our unique community even better.

I am proud to be a candidate in this election and stand for Labour in Sheffield. My passion and determination and energy for this community and its people is as strong as it has ever been. This is what I will be offering the people of Park and Arbourthorne in the coming 100 days and – hopefully – beyond.