Wakefield local elections 2021: Liberal Democrats claim they're the 'only voice' fighting for Wakefield residents

The Liberal Democrats have claimed they are "the only party" holding the ruling Labour council to account in Wakefield.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 1:26 pm

The Lib Dems took their first seat in the district in eight years at the last local elections in 2019, and are confident on adding to that number at Thursday's polls.

Councillor Tom Gordon, who won that seat and has been co-ordinating the party's local campaign, suggested electing more Liberal Democrats to the council chamber would ensure voters' voices were heard.

Coun Gordon said: "The Conservatives are an ineffective opposition. The only party that’s consistently held our Labour council to account over the last two years has been myself.

The Liberal Democrats are contesting seven seats.

"I said at the first council meeting I attended that the climate emergency motion didn’t go far enough. I've pointed out that other Labour authorities don't pay deputy Cabinet members like Wakefield does.

"Whether it be consistently campaigning for local services, or trying to make the council more accountable and transparent, I’ve been the only voice that’s fighting for you - the residents.

"At the end of the day it’s not about giving the Lib Dems more power, it’s about giving you, the voters, more power."

Coun Gordon said there had been an "overcentralisation" of services in Wakefield and claimed communities in the district were hit harder by cutbacks the further away they live from the city itself.

Councillor Tom Gordon was elected two years ago.

In their pre-election pitch, Labour said it had "looked after people" during the pandemic, and had delivered a strong agenda in Wakefield.

But in a direct attack on the ruling party, Coun Gordon said: "If you want local representatives who listen to you, then obviously the answer to that isn’t Labour.

"They don’t represent working class communities and they don’t represent young professionals. I’m not sure who they do represent to be honest.

"It doesn’t have to be a dichotomy between Labour or the Tories. There is a third option. And where we’re standing that option on the ballot paper is us.

"I think people feel that council tax is going up and services aren't reflecting that."

Coun Gordon denied the charge, which has been levelled at him by Labour, that he's opposed policies for the sake of it during his two years representing the Lib Dems as a councillor.

The authority's leader, Denise Jeffery, branded him "Harry Opposite" during a debate about the devolution deal at the end of last year.

Coun Gordon said: "I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve voted with the Labour group on motions before.

"If they put something forward that’s credible, reasonable and for the benefit of people then I’m more than happy to get behind it.

"What you do see is a Labour Party who’ll shout anyone down who has a dissenting view.

"At my first council meeting I suggested that the council should be appointing a Cabinet member for climate change alongside the declaration of emergency.

"Hey presto, six months later, that's what they did. Maybe they should listen to me more.

"I don’t think it’s so much 'Harry Opposite' as 'Mr Just Wants to Get Something Done'!"

This article is part of a series of profile pieces about the political parties and independent candidates standing in the local elections in Wakefield. Each profile will be published on our websites in turn in the run-up to polling day.

List of Liberal Democrat councillors standing in Wakefield

Ackworth, North Elmsall and Upton - Christopher Howden

Featherstone - Nigel Ebbs

Horbury and South Ossett - Mark Goodair

Knottingley - Adele Hayes

Normanton - Susan Hayes

Ossett - Malcolm Pollock

Stanley and Outwood East - Margaret Dodd