After a week of council coalition discussions and meetings, I wanted to give you as members a quick update on our thinking and where we are given the considerable interest and questions members have shown over the last few days.
The priority for us is and always will be the people of Sheffield and future opportunities. We are happy to work with any party on the Council who will sign up to this priority and work to implement key policies that we see as vital to Sheffield coming out of the pandemic.
The talks should not be about deals and who gets what position in a rainbow coalition but need to be based on positive policies that will help to support opportunities for businesses and people in every part of Sheffield.
So far, the meetings have mainly talked about internal structures – and not about the difference we can make to the people and businesses of Sheffield.
Therefore, today I have shared the following Liberal Democrat priorities that we want the other parties to agree to as a way of working together for the people of the City:
- Every area in Sheffield matters to us, not just ones we have Councillors in. So, we want to see money go to all areas to be spent on local peoples’ priorities. We want others to agree to our plan that each area committee is given £700,000 to improve every part of the City.
- We never again want to see a Council that doesn't listen. We want others to sign up to a full independent enquiry in public about the street-tree felling issue and make clear recommendations. That way changes can be made to improve how the Council listens and serves the people of the City well.
- As we come out of lockdown, we must do everything to secure jobs and businesses in the City. We therefore at present strongly rule out any extra localised business taxation such as the workplace parking tax and ask others to do the same.
- We want to make sure that our City hands over the greenest city as possible to future generations. That is why we seek others to join us and to sign up to the ARUP report that sets the Pathway to making Sheffield Carbon Zero by 2030.
We as Liberal Democrats will work across party lines on the policies above to ensure every area in Sheffield gets a fair deal, that we have a Council that listens and learns to serve people better, a council that doesn't get in the way of protecting jobs and businesses by imposing new taxes on local firms, and a council that acts now to protect the environment and create a sustainable future. I have shared these policy priorities with the Labour Party and the Greens earlier today and I will keep you updated as the talks and discussions progress.