Sheffield City Region mayoral candidate felt 'discriminated against' after snub from hustings

Naveen Judah
Naveen Judah
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A candidate running for Sheffield City Region mayorhas said he felt he was being 'discriminated against' after being snubbed from a hustings debate.

Naveen Judah from South Yorkshire Save Our NHS is demanding an apology after being left out from the event run at Quaker House in Sheffield city centre on Tuesday night.

The hustings, run by Sheffield for Democracy, invited candidates from Labour, Lib Dems, Conservatives, Green party and the Yorkshire Party.

David Allen from the English Democrats was also not invited.

But group co-ordinater Vicky Seddon said they had 'nothing to apologise for' and said the move was 'perfectly legitimate'.

She said the candidates from the respected parties were chosen on the amount of councillors and prospective candidates standing in local elections in South Yorkshire.

The pro-NHS candidate attended the meeting but was told he was not on the panel and couldn't speak from the top table.

In a dramatic twist, Mick Bower from the Yorkshire Party asked Naveen to join him on the panel and gave up some of his opening statement time for him to speak.

He added that Ian Walker, the Conservative candidate, had to leave the meeting and he still wasn't allowed to contribute.

"I was surprised, annoyed and a bit hurt to be quite honest," Mr Judah said.

"I was thinking to myself after this is a group with a tagline that reads 'inclusive democracy' and this wasn't the case at all.

"Mick asked me to come up and I was really appreciative about that but I felt stupid having to squeeze my way past people to sit next to him.

"They gave me some reasons but I don't accept their justification for them. Some of the questions that were asked by the audience, I felt I was best to answer them and it's a disservice to the process and electorate.

"It crossed my mind that I felt like I was being discriminated against because of my background and colour of my skin."

Responding to the allegations, Ms Seddon said they came to a decision to allow a maximum of five candidates to keep the audience engaged.

"It was our hustings and we made a decision based on the amount of councillors each party has and the amount of people standing in local elections," she said,

"The English Democrats and South Yorkshire Save Our NHS were no way near the other parties based on that.

"We did offer him the chance to speak at the start to let people know who he was - we didn't exclude him totally.

"We have nothing to apologise for."

Mick Bower posting on Twitter denounced the organisers and backed Naveen.

"I'll never attend another Sheffield for Democracy event. Great audience, great questions- but fundamentally undemocratic not to allow @judahnaveen to speak. Think @FestOfDebate should give them a swerve in future as well," he tweeted.

"Bear in mind - the excuse for excluding a legitimate candidate was that there wouldn't be enough time. Yet when the Conservative candidate left- they still ignored the Save Our NHS candidate. Set of elitist, up em sens k*******."