Local elections: parties pledge more social housing and better railway links

A new central library, a ‘Sheffield pound’, more social housing and better railway links are among the pledges parties have made for the upcoming council elections in their manifestos.

Labour has pledged to build 2,500 new homes next year, including hundreds of affordable homes, and a new Central Library and a culture hub.

It has also pledged to regenerate Castlegate with a second instalment of the ‘Grey to Green’ project and a new ‘high-tech digital hub’ at Castle House.

Further pledges include Completing the ‘Heart of City 2’ project, establishing a Sheffield Energy Company and becoming the first breastfeeding-friendly local authority.

The Labour-run council has been criticised for its handling of the ‘Streets Ahead’ contract, which was agreed with private contractor Amey in order to improve the state of roads in the city.

The programme has seen felling of hundreds of trees across Sheffield, resulting in protests by residents.

The party has promised publish a strategy on the city’s trees and plant 300 memorial trees in 15 parks across Sheffield.

Neale Gibson, a Labour Co-op candidate from Walkley, said: “Certainly the issue of street trees has been blown up out of all importance.

“Most people I speak to are more bothered by the lack of Police on the streets of Walkley, the planned closure of the walk in centre and the proposed closure of the A&E at the Hallamshire.”

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to engage campaigners and communities to review the contract and explore ways to maintain more trees.

They have also announced their intention to increase the budget for small business support by £14-£27k by reallocating funds from the council’s international travel and expense budget.

Introducing a ‘Sheffield Pound’, to help independent businesses and boost the local economy, has also been pledged by the party.

Their manifesto says the party would nationally build an additional 300,000 homes a year by 2022.

Liberal Democrat Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, whose seat in Ecclesall is up for election, said: “The key themes for us have always been about trust, truth and transparency. It’s very clear people are concerned about how the council is operating. They think it’s too strong. It doesn’t listen. It’s too insular.”

Introduction of a ‘Keep Sheffield Green’ fund and professional support for community libraries are also among Liberal Democrat proposals.

Manifestos of both Labour and Liberal Democrats mention introduction of live webcasting of council meetings, and lobbying the government for better rail links to the city.

The Green Party has been campaigning against NHS closures and tree felling in Sheffield.

The party has also called for more affordable social housing, and introduction of 20mph zones on residential streets across the city, in addition to advocating local-level decision making, and support for communities.

Green Coun Douglas Johnson said: “We’re looking for proper practical solutions at local level. Things that can actually be done. We don’t have to sacrifice Sheffield people’s interest to national party ideology.”

As many as 28 of the 84 seats in Sheffield City Council will be up for election on Thursday when polls open.

The Labour party currently holds 56 seats in the council. The Liberal Democrats have 20 seats and the Green Party and UKIP have four seats each.