News from Sheffield and Ashfield

Two articles drop into my inbox this morning bringing news of Lib Dem administrations on two councils north of the Trent.

Firstly Sheffield where Lib Dems are celebrating a year in control of the Council, and where the local newspaper has written a long, balanced article about what has been done in that time.

So what have the Lib Dems done for Sheffield? They have certainly been busy and, at the end of the first year, have produced a list of more than 50 decisions, ranging from multi-million pound strategies to community projects.

It wasn’t long before they were deciding to refund drivers fined for going through the Hillsborough bus and tram gates and stopping a proposed wind farm at Westwood Country Park at High Green.

They have provided free green waste collections at the kerbside, appointed an extra 15 officers to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour, planted 5,000 trees and given parents a ballot on school changes.

The list extends to naming a road Derek Dooley Way, providing extra security for Bishops House in Meersbrook Park and giving a free book to every child starting school.

It also includes “securing £674m of Government funding to improve Sheffield’s streets over the next 25 years from 2011″

And secondly Ashfield, a council in Nottinghamshire in the constituency represented by Geoff Hoon, where the Lib Dems have spent two years in minority control running the council with a cabinet composed almost entirely of first-time councillors under thirty.

In an unexpected move, Conservatives and independents on the council chose the annual meeting to vote the Labour party back into power. Here’s the statement issued by former leader Jason Zadrozny:

“I am obviously disappointed that my group will no longer be forming the administration. Over the past two years we have tried to turn around the Council after many years of failure and neglect by the Labour Party.

“In 2007, Ashfield people rejected a Labour Party tired of ideas. Unfortunately for residents they have now found themselves with a Labour-led Council without having cast a vote for it.

“Many Ashfield residents will be angry and disappointed that when they backed Independent or Conservative candidates in the last elections to remove Labour from office, little did they know that they would vote them back in.

“Since the last election the Liberal Democrats have received several votes of confidence from Ashfield people. We have had landslide wins in election after election in Sutton West, Underwood, Annesley and Jacksdale. This has been a clear message from the people that they like the direction we have been taking Ashfield in. In all these elections, Labour and their allies have all seen their support crumble. The new administration is in effect a “coalition of losers.”

“My hope now is that the new administration will not undo the progress we have been making and scupper the plans we have put in place to make Ashfield safer, cleaner and greener.

“I wish the new Leader every success and the Liberal Democrats will continue to play the fullest role possible in Council affairs. We will be a constructive and effective opposition and we will hold the new administration to account.

“Liberal Democrat Councillors believe that local people need to come first and we will of course continue to fight tirelessly for the people we represent. We look forward to the County Council elections in a few weeks time where voters will have their chance to pass their verdict on which party they want to run the County Council. Residents now know there is only one chance for change in Ashfield and that is the Liberal Democrats. Votes for the Conservatives or Independents will mean that Labour will return to power.”