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Public to quiz candidates for South Yorkshire mayor ahead of crucial election

Community union ACORN will host a hustings for candidates from all parties on 5 April, with questions likely to focus on transport and the cost of living.

City centre town hall 3

Sheffield City Council have left part of a Stonewall scheme designed to promote the rights of LGBTQ people at work.

Rachel Rae Photography.

A Sheffield-based union are giving the public a chance to question candidates running to be the next Mayor of South Yorkshire at upcoming elections on 5 May.

The open hustings will take place on 5 April at St Mary's Church on Bramall Lane. The event is free but attendees need to reserve a place in advance.

Founded in 2016, ACORN Sheffield originally focused on housing and rogue landlords but have since expanded their remit to include other community issues like poor local transport.

"With us coming out of the pandemic headfirst into a rising cost of living crisis, this is such an important election," Jonny Butcher of ACORN Sheffield told Now Then.

"The next mayor will have real powers to make change and will be in a key position to fight central government for more resources and powers for our region."

Labour's candidate for mayor is Oliver Coppard. He hopes to succeed four-year incumbent Dan Jarvis MP, who is not standing for a second term.

Bex Whyman is running for the Green Party on a public transport platform, while the Yorkshire Party have selected businessman Simon Biltcliffe.

The Conservatives recently announced their candidate as Barnsley-based businessman Clive Watkinson, who has also focused his campaign on transport infrastructure.

Now Then understands that Joe Otten, currently a councillor for Dore and Totley in Sheffield, has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Candidates who turn up to ACORN's hustings are likely to be asked about their support for bringing buses back under public control, which both Coppard and Whyman say they support.

The union also campaign for city-wide landlord licensing, which in Sheffield the local Labour and Green parties have already backed ahead of council elections on the same day.

"We've seen some mayors across the country, like Andy Burnham in Manchester, take action on things like public transport and housing – others have been virtually anonymous," said Butcher.

"This is why we're organising a public hustings, which will be an opportunity to directly challenge candidates on what they will do for the people of the region. As an organisation, ACORN plans to hold the winning candidate to their word."

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