‘Keep Wakefield ideals in Wakefield’ – City’s business owners react to Labour winning MP seat

Labour won back the seat they lost in 2019 with Mr Lightwood gaining a total of 13,166, beating the conservative candidate, Nadeem Ahmed, who received 8,241 votes.

The seat – which had been held by Labour for almost 90 years before the national election in 2019 – was up for grabs after former MP, Imran Ahmad Khan, stepped down after being jailed in May for an historic sexual assault.

The business owners are in agreement that one of the first tasks that Mr Lightwood needs to prioritise is the Arriva bus strikes, which has been ongoing since June 6.

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Business owners in the district have reacted to Simon Lightwood winning the by- election for Labour overnight.Business owners in the district have reacted to Simon Lightwood winning the by- election for Labour overnight.
Business owners in the district have reacted to Simon Lightwood winning the by- election for Labour overnight.

Scott Oldroyd, the owner of So Wood Ornamentals, said he voted for the Independent candidate to “keep Wakefield ideals in Wakefield” without interference from Westminster.

He wants Wakefield to be “on par” with the rest of the country and receive adequate funding to develop the district as a business hub.

He said: “I went for the Independent so that we could keep Wakefield’s ideals in Wakefield rather than going through Westminster, unfortunately Labour got back in.

“Basically, we want to be on par with everybody else. This is one of the best places to come and set a business up and to succeed but the funding and help we get is minimal.

“We also need to try and keep Wakefield’s money in Wakefield.“We need [the new MP] to fight for us in Westminster. We need him to get the buses back running again.

“We’ve gone over two weeks without them and it is absolutely crippling all the shops in Wakefield. We need to get the pay rises sorted out so everyone is on an equal par and that people can actually afford to pay their bills and live.”

Richard Campbell-Marrin, the landlord of the Raven pub, said that it is crucial that Mr Lightwood tackles the bus strikes which has resulted in a loss of trade for many businesses – including his own – in the city centre over the past few weeks.

He said: “Regardless of political party, the first thing he’s got to look at is people’s access into the city centre. The bus strike has been detrimental to businesses, regardless of what they are.

“The next thing to look at is investment. When you compare Wakefield to Leeds, there is no competition. People travel from Wakefield to Leeds for shopping. Wakefield has two major shopping centres – the Ridings and Trinity – but they have a lot of empty units.

“I voted for Akeef Akbar, the Independent. He was out there speaking to the community and businesses. I never met the gentleman before but he asked us what we expected out of him

and not what he expected out of us.”

Jimmy Newson, owner of Dulcie’s Donuts, did not vote in yesterday’s elections but said he would have voted Conservative, for the second time in his life.

He said: “I would have voted for the Conservatives. Since the last Labour Government, I became so disillusioned with them that I started voting for the Conservatives.

“I was always Labour until Theresea May came in. To me, Labour hasn’t changed and they are just trying to cause troubles in the House of Commons. This is the only election since the 1970s that I haven’t voted for.”

The owner of a hair salon in the city centre, who didn’t want to be named, said that she had high hopes for the Conservative Party when they came in 2019 but was let down. She said that Mr Lightwood must listen to the people of the district and help to sort out the transport strikes.

She said: “The MP needs to listen to people and help. The bus strikes have impacted the city centre over the past few weeks. The country has been shut down over the past two years and we are finally trying to build our businesses back up but we are being knocked down with the bus and train strikes.

“Wakefield has had a Labour Council for years and years. When the Conservatives came in, we thought it would be like a breath of spring. Of course, it didn’t happen.”

Ruth Jones, owner of Monty’s Cafe, said she doesn’t know why people voted for Labour in the election as they “have not helped local businesses”.

She said:: “I’m having to close down my business because of the Government. I worked all the way through the pandemic and now we’ve got this. There are people in town because they have built around the city which is why people have dispersed from the centre.

“There are no people in the town centre because they’ve allowed corporate businesses such as Costa Coffee and Subway in the city centre and I blame Labour, they’ve been in power all

this time and they have not served this city at all.

“Why are people still voting for the same politicians? It does not make sense to me at all?”

However, one of the potential reasons why Labour regained its seat is due to loyal voters such as Robert Johnston and Eunice Johnston, two retirees.

Mr Johnson said: “We hoped Labour would win and we’re really glad they did. I’ve always voted Labour as I was a miner. We thought that Simon Lightwood looked quite good and we hope that he proves his word.”

Wakefield Express News