Tuesday, June 26, 2007


A new Great Sheffield Flood

Anyone who's been watching the news today will have seen the reports of terrible flooding in Yorkshire - and Sheffield has been badly hit.

What originally seemed like a mere repeat of the flooding 10 days ago has turned into a fully-fledged natural disaster. Initially it seemed the flooding would be a minor irritation as rivers burst their banks and caused several roads to be closed, leading to gridlock in the city centre and the Meadowhall area.

But as flood waters started alarmingly to take over the city's streets, many people abandoned their cars and headed for safety - a good move, as this picture suggests.

Defensive walls along the Lower Don are reported to have collapsed, and many of the city's bridges have been completely swamped. Persistent rumour has it that the ancient Lady's Bridge - which survived the 1864 Great Sheffield Flood - may have collapsed. We shall have to see in the morning what the damage is.

Hundreds of people are being evacuated from premises in the Brightside Lane area - including the city's main Royal Mail sorting office.

And two people - a 13-year-old boy and a 68-year-old man - sadly died after being swept away by flood waters.

A resident at Millsands took these dramatic pictures of the flooding, and people being winched to safety by a Sea King rescue helicopter:

A massive praise for the folks at Sheffield Forum who have set up a special forum and information service for people affected by the flooding.

And for once, I'm going to give the thumbs up to Sky News (shock horror) - they were covering the situation in Sheffield while BBC News 24 were still telling us about rain delays at Wimbledon. Grr.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Council AGM (and that Labour reshuffle in full)

My colleague Anders has already covered what happened at the AGM in some detail, so I'll be brief:
This means we have an all-Labour cabinet, with some minor changes:

Cllr Tim Rippon replaces Cllr Robert MacDonald as Economic Regeneration, Culture and Planning spokesman. Cllr MacDonald moves to a sub-cabinet role - Cabinet Adviser for Personnel.

Cllr Terry Fox leaves the Transport portfolio and the Cabinet. Cllr Fox is replaced by Cllr Bryan Lodge, who will take expand his existing Streetscene portfolio to include Transport.

Astute readers will notice that both members who are leaving the Cabinet are up for election in marginal wards next time - Terry Fox in Gleadless Valley and Robert MacDonald in Hillsborough.

Cllr. Jan Wilson has been re-elected as Council Leader, and Cllrs. Jones, Harpham, Weldon, Rooney, and Lea have retained their respective cabinet positions. Cllrs. Price and Barton stay on as Scrutiny Board chairs, for Culture, Economy and Sustainability, and Successful Neighbourhoods respectively.

On the Lib Dem side of the aisle, Cllr. Clive Skelton replaces Cllr. Roger Davison as chair of the Health Scrutiny Board. Cllr. John Knight remains chair of the Children and Young People (i.e. education) Scrutiny Board.

There are no changes to the Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet team, with Cllrs. Scriven, Sangar, Anginotti, McCann, Auckland, Mohammed, Baker (David), Dunkley and Clement-Jones poised to continue their excellent work.

You can view the full list of portfolio-holders here.


Labour start education climb-down

Well, it's finally happened - Sheffield Labour have realised that closing a well-liked local school is actually unpopular.

Labour councillors are now planning a "review panel" to examine deeply unpopular plans to close Wisewood and Myers Grove schools.

There will be three members of the panel in total:
although it remains to be seen who they actually appoint to these positions - and who will make the appointments!

The alert among you will have noticed that Labour have promised very little here - merely that they will look again at "all the options".

What "all the options" are is left to interpretation - local parents will remember well that last year the options given at consultation were

a) closure and merger of the two schools, or
b) there is no option B...

(In fact, Hillsborough Labour Councillor Robert MacDonald was quoted at the time as saying it was "the only option" - how they've changed their tune!)

They have also stopped short of restarting the public consultation process - a key step demanded by local parents' group Save Our Community Schools.

But by far the most comical part of the announcement has to be this - the sheer naked self-interest that has motivated it. Labour leader Jan Wilson goes so far as to admit that this apparent re-think is motivated by one thing alone - their defeat in Hillsborough Ward (and ergo the desire of the remaining two Labour councillors to save their skins...)

"It is absolutely clear that we lost due to new voters voting against Labour on the school amalgamation issue - we need to take notice of this," said she.

Be in no doubt, local parents will not be fooled by this - they will want to know categorically that their local schools are safe before they even consider voting Labour again.

Labour's press release leaves no doubt whatsoever: if local residents in Hillsborough had not rejected Labour so overwhelmingly on May 3rd there would be no question of any re-think of these plans whatsoever. Good for them I say.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Sheffield Labour lefties - read this and despair

Sheffield Labour MPs nominating Gordon Brown:

David Blunkett (Sheffield Brightside)
Richard Caborn (Sheffield Central)
Angela Smith (Sheffield Hillsborough)
Meg Munn (Sheffield Heeley)
Clive Betts (Sheffield Attercliffe)

Sheffield Labour MPs not nominating Gordon Brown:

Any Labour members out there who wanted a contest - you know who to blame...

Also I read that Meg Munn (edit: and Angela Smith and Clive Betts) supported today's thoroughly shameful attempt to make MPs exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

Not a good day for what the Labour Party is meant to stand for, really.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Labour lose control of Sheffield

Superb - simply superb.

Labour 41 seats (-3)
Liberal Democrats 39 seats (+4)
Green Party 2 seats (-)
Conservatives 1 seat (-1)
Independent 1 seat (-)

Congratulations to the following new Lib Dem Councillors:

Councillor Steve Ayris (member for Hillsborough - LD gain from Lab)
Councillor Denise Reaney (member for Gleadless Valley - LD gain from Lab)
Councillor Penny Baker (member for Walkley - LD gain from Lab)
Councillor Mike Davis (member for Dore & Totley - LD gain from Con)
Councillor Colin France (member for Nether Edge - LD hold)


Sheffield, Hallam - notional majority increased

In keeping with the theme of Lib Dem held seats doing rather well at the local elections, here is the full vote share for Sheffield, Hallam on the new boundaries. Changes from last time are in parentheses.

LD 44.1% (+2.6)
Con 21.3% (-1.4)
Lab 10.7% (+0.4)
Grn 7.2% (-0.5)
UKIP 0.8% (-0.1)
Others 0.0% (-0.8)

Also, all five Council seats were won by over 1,000 votes - including a gain from the Tories. Councillors in the constituency now stand at LD 14, Con 1, Others 0.

The final remaining Tory is up for election next year, where they could be wiped out in Sheffield district for the first time since its creation.

Congrats to Nick Clegg and his excellent organiser Anders Hanson!

Monday, April 30, 2007


Greens vote against recycling

This letter was printed in the Sheffield Telegraph on the 27th April.

I was amazed to learn that the Greens had voted against the Lib Dem proposal for an extra £1million for recycling in Sheffield. I used to be a big supporter of the Greens, and stood for them in the local elections a couple of times. I stopped supporting them when I realised that their hostility to business and trade, although well-intended, would condemn millions to poverty, billions if followed worldwide.

On reflection, Green Party policies like the 20 mph speed limit throughout built up areas – making cars less efficient and bus services much more expensive to run – were always about getting the basics wrong. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by the recycling vote.

If greens – of all parties and none – have succeeded in something it is in winning widespread agreement that environmental challenges exist and should be faced up to. But the way to face the challenge of global warming isn’t to stop the city moving – to demand that we sit at home and forego the delights that this fantastic city has to offer us. There are other challenges we face too: poverty, education, healthcare, threats to peace and freedom. Failures on these can be just as deadly as failures on the environment.

Equipping ourselves to face all these challenges means getting the city moving, working and studying hard, supporting science and defending liberty, as well as saving energy, cutting pollution and spending an extra £1m on recycling. I fear the Greens would sacrifice the tools needed to do the job properly.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Calling all Crookes residents: the Tories are trying to con you

Oh dear oh dear. We're barely a week into the new campaign and already I'm going to have to dust off the Golden Porkie award - and since the Tories romped away with it last year it's only fitting that the Tory candidate for Crookes should be the first one out of the gate this year. And it's an absolute stinker.

The latest "inTouch" from Tory Robert McIlveen - which I feel looks uncomfortably like a tax return form - bears the headline
Only the Tories offer value for money here
And goes on to scaremonger about how those nasty Lib Dems are going to raise your Council Tax.

EXCEPT: the Conservatives in Sheffield proposed RAISING the Council Tax by 2.9%, which is ABOVE the rate of inflation. The Lib Dem budget contained a below-inflation rise of just 1.96% - a cut in real terms.

The Tories have a real problem in Sheffield. People have started to realise that this election is about Lib Dem vs. Labour in the Town Hall. They want to vote for a party that can win - and all the evidence shows that the Tories could be completely wiped out by May 2008. But if these bare-faced lies are all they can offer in response to genuine community action by the Lib Dems, it will be well deserved.

There you go my friend - wear it with pride.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


e-voting and a delayed count

For those who aren't aware, Sheffield will be conducting a second e-voting trial at the upcoming local elections.

Between 7.00 am on 26 April and 7.00 am on 30 April, those who have registered in advance for a password will be able to vote on the Internet or over the telephone.

There will also be an early voting "kiosk" at the Town Hall
available between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm on 26 to 29 April.

I will myself be sticking with a postal vote. I, like the rest of the Lib Dem group, have grave concerns over the ability to verify or challenge the e-vote: you are quite simply given a piece of paper with the result on come the day of the count.

The complexity of the new system means that the count will be held on Friday morning - a system which just seems wrong to me! I doubt I'll be able to muster much sleep, even after an exhausting 17-hour polling day.

However, there is a silver lining for us activists - for once we will be able to watch the election coverage on TV!

You can still register for a postal vote if you need one.

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The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and may not represent those of blogger.com or the Sheffield Liberal Democrat Group.