Nearly 60 Labour members sign letter claiming party's defeat in Sheffield is down to scandals such as tree felling

A Labour activist has launched a stinging attack on his own party, saying their Sheffield Council election defeat comes as little surprise following a “myriad of incidents which brought the city into a bad light”.

Nether Edge, Sheffield

Minesh Parekh has sent a letter to Labour’s ruling NEC, which has been signed by 58 party members in Sheffield. Labour lost eight wards and thus overall control of the council.

It says: “As devastating as this result is, it comes as little surprise. While there have been many highlights to Labour’s recent record in Sheffield, including committing to being a zero carbon city by 2030, fighting to insource public services, and committing to paying the real living wage to all council employers, these were unfortunately not enough to keep the council under Labour control.

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“However, there have been a myriad of incidents which have brought the city into a bad light on the national stage.

“Many people, from all wings of the party, have raised concerns with the previous administration, including an enduring unpopularity from the continued fallout from the Streets Ahead highways PFI, and the distance it maintained from party members and the general public.

“We will need to begin the process of rebuilding trust in Labour in our city, which must mean a new way of leading.

“With Bob Johnson losing control of the council and his seat so soon after being elected Leader, there is a need for a period of reflection about the reasons for this loss.”

Labour councillors choose the new Leader and Coun Terry Fox was selected on Saturday morning.

But the letter says all party members should have a vote, not just councillors.

It adds: “The Leader should be elected by an all-member ballot, rather than by councillors alone. Any new leader should be elected for an interim period to allow an all-member ballot to take place.”

It’s understood Labour Party rules say Labour Groups are responsible for selecting their Leader and any changes to the rules would need to be made at the party conference in October.