Election 2015 England

Election 2015: Sheffield market traders share their views

Factory, Britain, Office

Over the coming weeks politicians of all persuasions will travel to towns and cities across England as the country gears up for the general election. While they do that, BBC News will be visiting offices, factories and other workplaces to gauge the mood of those who matter most - the voters.

Opened in 2013, Sheffield's Moor Market is home to more than 90 independent traders selling everything from fish to flowers and sausages to soft furnishings.

The variety does not stop there either.

From benefits to climate change, higher tax rates to zero-hours contracts, the stall holders' political views are as diverse as the goods and produce they sell.

Image caption Sheffield's Moor Market is home to more than 90 independent traders
Image caption Maxine Brown wants the government to clamp down on benefit claimants who "use the system"

Labour supporter Maxine Brown, 49, who works at Turner's Bakery, said she believed whoever the next government was, the benefit system needed to be looked at.

"I work full time here and I'm on minimum wage. I get about £5 a week Working Tax Credit but what does that pay for? It doesn't even cover the bus fare to work.

"They are trying to get people back into work but I think some people know how to use the system."

Pardeep Singh, 36, who runs Continental Foods, selling speciality produce from India, East Asia and the Caribbean, agrees.

"I do not like getting up at 5am and getting home at 10pm, having had to work for my money, when other people just sit around all day claiming benefits."

He is also opposed to higher taxes for higher earners.

He said: "Certain people want to tax the rich more and I do not think that's right. If you work hard it does not mean you should get taxed more."

Image caption Pardeep Singh said he was opposed to increasing tax for high earners

For 58-year-old Jonathan Youdan, owner of S&J Pantry and a pastor at the Mayfield Wesleyan Reform Church, in Fulwood, the key to winning his vote is firmness and fairness.

"I'm very concerned when politicians say things that promote uncertainty and instability because then people can't plan properly and they can't invest," he said.

"For instance talking about leaving the EU, we won't do that for years, so for years people won't know how to invest sensibly.

Image caption Jonathan Youdan said he would prefer a majority government over a coalition

"I don't think the coalition has produced strong and decisive governance."

Asked if he would prefer a majority government over a coalition, regardless of which party won, he said: "With a majority government at least you have direction so, in that sense, yes."

He said he wanted to see the next government consider the use of private finance initiatives.

"I think it needs to be carefully looked at. There are situations where private investment can improve how things operate but where you need a regional or national view on something, you're not going to get that with piecemeal private investment," he said.

"It was piecemeal private investment that produced the situation we have with the railways, which is a shambles."

Image caption Marcia Brown said she wanted to see an increase in the minimum wage

Marcia Brown, 57, works at Grace's Fabrics, selling dresses, haberdashery products and a multitude of different coloured fabrics.

For her the biggest issues are employment opportunities and the standard of living.

"I'm not a fan of zero-hours contracts. People want a job that is permanent, that pays a proper wage.

"We've got food banks and things but most people want to earn a decent wage so they can live.

"An increase in the minimum wage would be good. I'm one of the many that are struggling at the moment."

Butcher Paul Tissington, 62, said climate change and economic recovery were top of his list of priorities.

"What's a big issue? For me I think this is an important thing, can we make life on this planet last a lot longer?

"I do not see the end of the world coming in my lifetime but I think we need to stop being selfish and start to think about it."

Image caption Paul Tissington said he was concerned about the economy and climate change

He said he was also concerned about the state of the British economy.

"It's hard to believe that we've got in to this state. I thought Great Britain was a big enough country to lend to others rather than have to borrow.

"Somebody once said that if you do a little, only a little gets done and that's what we seem to be doing at the moment, a little. We've got to solve that problem."

Jewellery stall owner Enid Walker, 44, thinks government-imposed spending cuts are having a negative effect.

She said cuts to services such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, transport for the disabled and support for domestic violence victims would result in knock-on effects on other services.

"Since they have decided to make cuts from parliament down to local councils, the local councils are thinking that the way to save is by cutting a lot of services but in the long term that will just create more work," she said.

Image caption Enid Walker believes government-imposed spending cuts have been detrimental to local services

South Yorkshire is traditionally a Labour stronghold. Aside from Nick Clegg's win for the Liberal Democrats in Sheffield Hallam, in 2010, the remaining 13 seats all voted red.

Despite Labour's grip on the area, the traders were divided over which party would get their vote, though they all agreed on the importance of having your say at the ballot box.

Ms Brown said: "What I always go on is I think that the Conservatives are too posh for me and Labour has always been about the working man or woman."

Mr Youdan said he "generally" voted Labour unless he wanted to register a protest vote against the party's stance.

"I believe that, on balance, they present a fairer vision of the country for the majority of the people. They are not as tied to vested interest as others."

Image caption The Moor Market was opened in November 2013 after Sheffield's Castle Market closed

Mr Tissington, however, is s staunch Conservative.

He said: "I've stayed with the same party all my life because it represents what I am, self-employed."

Mr Singh has also previously voted Conservative.

"I voted Conservative in 2010. I'm happy with that.

"I do not mind some of Labour's policies but I do not think Miliband is right to run the country. Cameron knows what he's doing, the other guy has not got the toughness."

Ms Brown said she was still making up her mind but making sure she was "listening to what they all have to say".

"I will vote. I believe that every vote counts.

"But as far as I'm concerned they are all the same. Are we going to get something different from Ed Miliband? Is it really going to be any better than what we've already got?"

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