THE FORMER Liberal Democrat leader of Sheffield Council has announced he will not be seeking re-election as group leader after the party’s crushing defeat in the local elections last week.
Paul Scriven was leader of Sheffield Council from May 2008 until last Thursday, when the Liberal Democrats lost nine seats and control of the council to Labour.
The 45-year-old, who is originally from Huddersfield, said: “I have thought long and hard about this decision but I think that, after nearly a decade, it’s time to move on. I want to be able to pursue other interests and it’s also time for my partner, family and friends to come first.”
The first openly gay leader of Sheffield Council, Mr Scriven was a senior NHS manager before entering politics and also ran his own travel company.
Last year, he stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Sheffield Central in the General Election, but lost out by an extremely narrow margin to Labour candidate Paul Blomfield.
In his three years as council leader Mr Scriven became extremely well-known in Sheffield, not least when his notorious performance of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day for a Mercure Hotel training video was leaked.
He said: “My decision has been made easier knowing that among my colleagues there are a number who would make an excellent leader of the Liberal Democrat group.
“I love the city of Sheffield which I have come to adopt as my home. As the son of a dustbin man from an estate in Huddersfield, it is hard to believe that I had the honour of serving this great city as the leader of the Sheffield Liberal Democrats for nearly a decade and of the council for a wonderful three years.
“Personally, I put a lot of work into ensuring that we agreed a deal on the new retail quarter, the new market and securing the investment to repair all the roads.
“These major projects will all come to fruition in the next few years and make a real difference, although I’m disappointed I won’t be able to see them through to completion as leader.
“I will do all I can as a local Liberal Democrat councillor and a Sheffielder to make sure the new council does not take the city backwards.
“I would particularly like to thank the many local people who have sent me very kind comments of support since Thursday. I am now looking forward to having a little more time to enjoy the great green spaces and delights that my home city has to offer.”
The new leader of Sheffield Council, Labour group leader Julie Dore, will officially come into office next Wednesday, May 18.