The South Yorkshire mayoral candidates: Liberal Democrats’ Hannah Kitching

The Liberal Democrats’ candidate Hannah Kitching has hit out at the Labour Party ahead of Sheffield’s Metro Mayoral election this Friday.

She has been campaigning mainly in Penistone this week and is running in the local elections for the Penistone West seat in the Barnsley council.

Ms Kitching claimed: “Labour squabbling and infighting has stopped us from moving forward and electing our mayor when other cities have elected mayors and prevented us from getting our hands on £30m worth of devolution money for South Yorkshire.

“I don’t have a problem with anyone pursuing further devolution deals, but the job I am standing for is to be the metro mayor for South Yorkshire and that will be my priority.

“I am very much aware of how local politics can feel so distant from peoples’ lives- I’m determined to involve local people in the decisions which affect their lives. South Yorkshire is in desperate need of better transport, better opportunities and better democracy- these are my top priorities if elected.”

Her main policy has been outlined as creating opportunities for people in South Yorkshire, and she has criticised her Labour competitors.

She told The Yorkshire Post: “Getting a labour mayor in here is going to be no closer to getting Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10.

“So I would really like to ask people to move beyond national politics and look at the local situation because Labour is the problem here in South Yorkshire. It is their infighting which is dragging this region down.”

 ‘In a sense this mayor is above party politics’

The Liberal Democrats said they are pro-business and want an end to people leaving university without any career opportunities available.

Mrs Kiching said: “I want to make the most of this devolution deal and make it the best place to live, work and raise a family.

“At the moment what our council is proving is that they are incapable of collaborating and getting on with council leaders from their own party.

“I wonder if we are at the point where we need to have independent mediation, to help build bridges and mend the broken relationships in council.”

Mrs Kitching, who used to be a physiotherapist in the NHS, runs a Sheffield-based manufacturing business with her husband and they export steel products worldwide.

She continued: “What I am bringing is I can be an honest broker. It shouldn’t make a difference that I am from a different party, we should be able to get on and move forward.

“I bring a fresh face, a fresh voice and a fresh way of working to the table.”

The Liberal Democrats lost favour with young voters- particularly students- during the coalition government with the Conservatives, after tuition fees were raised to £9000 a year.

When asked about the party’s relationship with young people, Mrs Kitching said: “That is absolutely what I am in this for- I have got two little girls myself and I want to see this region full of opportunities and to put down a ladder for all the young people in our region.”

She added: “That is not just our students in higher education, it is also for young people not in a position to access higher education.

“We want to offer an apprenticeship for every single school leaver across the region, and also for older people looking to study.”

This will be Mrs Kitching’s first time standing for anything in politics and she is spending this week ‘shoving pieces of paper through letterboxes and knocking on doors to talk to lots of voters.’

The Kichings live in Thurlstone, on the outskirts of Barnsley and Sheffield, with their two primary school aged children.