Young Sheffield councillor set to replace Kevin Barron in Rother Valley

Sienna Rodgers

23-year-old Sophie Wilson is set to replace sitting MP Kevin Barron as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Rother Valley after winning the selection battle on Friday evening.

The young Sheffield councillor, who is involved with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and works for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, was the only local candidate shortlisted.

LabourList understands that Wilson won the selection race with 89 votes from local party members, compared to 50 secured by West Oxfordshire councillor and Witney mayor Duncan Enright.

Alison Hume, a screenwriter and disability campaigner from York who stood as an MEP candidate for Yorkshire and the Humber in May, came third with 12 votes. In fourth place with six was Luke Farley, the chair of Elmet and Rothwell Labour who works for the NHS in Leeds.

Wilson and Farley are both considered to be on the Labour left. She had the backing of the Fire Brigades Union and John McDonnell, while he had been endorsed by Momentum, Unite, ASLEF, GMB and CWU.

Along with Olivia Blake, who has been selected to fight Sheffield Hallam, and Fran Johnson, Labour’s candidate in Penistone and Stocksbridge, Wilson quit the Sheffield council cabinet earlier this year to back a switch to a committee system of decision-making.

As a local councillor, Wilson came out in favour of relicensing a strip and lap dancing club, a move opposed by Sammy Woodhouse – a local survivor of child grooming in Rotherham and activist against sexual abuse.

Due to their disagreement over the Spearmint Rhinos club, which has been accused of “exploitation, harassment, sexual assault”, Woodhouse is apparently considering standing against Wilson.

Rother Valley has historically been a safe seat for Labour but Kevin Barron, the sitting MP who is retiring, currently has a slim majority of 3,882 after dropping from over 7,000 in 2015, when UKIP came second.

The seat voted over 66% in favour of Leave in the 2016 EU referendum. At the last election, the Tory candidate came second with 40% of the vote and UKIP came a distant third.

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