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Campaigners call for Sheffield politicians to build 'progressive alliance'

Members of the Compass thinktank have written to the local leaders of Sheffield's progressive parties, calling on them to create a 'traffic light' coalition following the local elections.

Sheffield city centre from above South Street amphitheatre - no credit needed

Sheffield members of Labour, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have written an open letter to their local party leaders urging them to form a 'traffic light' coalition administration.

No party has an overall majority on Sheffield City Council since the local elections on 6 May, after Labour lost eight seats. The Greens gained five seats, the Lib Dems three seats, and the Conservatives won their first seat in the city since 2007.

This means Labour and at least one of the two main opposition parties – the Greens and the Lib Dems – will need to come to a deal to form a coalition administration.

"Despite difficult relationships in the past, we believe there is a lot of common ground between Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens if we can keep open minds, listen to each other and move beyond historic party boundaries," the letter reads.

'Traffic light' coalitions, so called because of the colours of the three parties involved, have recently run small councils in Lewes and Stroud. Campaigners at Compass hope that a coalition in Sheffield could prove a test case for a 'progressive alliance' at a national level. A new project, The Common Ground, launched last month with similar objectives.

A progressive alliance would see Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens not standing candidates against each other in some areas, with the aim of forming a coalition to change the first-past-the-post electoral system, which disadvantages progressive parties.

"We always need to remember that there is a lot of cynicism about the Council and 66% of electorate did not vote," Compass Sheffield said in their letter.

"We must build a city where people are proud of their Council and feel that taking part in the democratic process matters to them."

The three parties are currently in negotiations in Sheffield, but the Greens have already called for a 'rainbow cabinet' to run the city.

The local Labour Party, who have run the Council single-handedly since 2011, have cautiously welcomed the negotiations, saying that any coalition deal should be "politically proportionate."

Sheffield's Liberal Democrats have also written to their members, saying that the talks "should not be about deals and who gets what position in a rainbow coalition but need to be based on positive policies."

Ahead of the first Council meeting since the elections tomorrow (19 May), campaigners from Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and Friends of the Earth are inviting the local leaders of all four parties on the Council to outline how they will tackle the climate crisis.

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