EXCLUSIVE: 45% of Sheffield Council candidates have withheld their address as politics becomes “more violent”

As many as 66 potential Sheffield councillors have not publicised their home address on their nomination papers as the public becomes “more violent” towards candidates.

It comes on the back of government legislation passed in March that allowed candidates not to disclose their home address on the ballot paper.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammad, Leader of The Liberal Democrats at Sheffield City Council (From Shaffaq Mohammad Twitter)

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, Leader of The Liberal Democrats at Sheffield City Council, advised his son Sohail to withhold his address when he decided to run in this year’s local elections.

He said: “I told my son ‘Look, do you want the aggro of people turning up to your house?’ He said, ‘No, I can do without it actually, Dad.”

Out of 148 candidates standing in 28 wards across the City region, 66 have chosen to exercise their right to privacy. Sohail Mohammed is one of those who has chosen to do so.

Coun Mohammed believes that following MP Jo Cox’s murder in June 2016, the personal safety of politicians is more under threat than ever.

He said: “Labour Councillor Bryan Lodge, who was the cabinet member in charge of the tree felling in Sheffield, was constantly getting wood chippings through his door.

“Bryan’s family have not signed up for this. Their private space should not be interfered with.”

“One of my colleagues David Baker (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stannington) some years ago was on the planning board. A farmer turned up at his house wanting to discuss a planning issue with a shotgun over his arm.”

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed

It follows City Council leader Julie Dore being moved to a safe house in March after receiving online abuse.

Jayne Dunn, Labour Councillor for Southey ward, has also had safety concerns.

She said she has received “highly sexualised” online threats, her garden was broken into and she was even followed into a car park after meetings.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “It was pretty awful, I don’t know how I got through it.

“I don’t feel scared anymore, but I am very wary and very aware. I have altered a lot of things about my life, I don’t run alone nearly as much as I used to.”

Councillor Jayne Dunn says she is “very wary” after online threats

Her colleague Coun Mohammed has echoed these concerns. He said: “People can say what they want to me online, but when they turn up to my house?

“Things have changed in politics in the past few years. People have become less tolerant towards people who are different and more violent.

“I’ve been encouraging colleagues (including his son) and candidates to withhold their addresses. I want us to get to a point where they are running in the city of Sheffield and that’s it.”

The most popular ward for candidates withholding their address is Park & Arbourthorne, where seven out of eight candidates have done so. Labour and Co-Operative candidates are most likely to keep their address private, with five out of six of them doing so in this year’s election.