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.