Labour trusts a former councillor with a track record to win back Dinnington

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The Labour Party has named a familiar face with experience to stand in next month’s by-election in Dinnington in order to win the seat back from the Tories.

John Vjestica, the Labour’s candidate for Dinnington, has done it once. He won a by-election in Dinnington in 2017 and spent a couple of years in the chamber.

He used to be on the planning board so he was actively shaping the borough, he said.

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However, when Labour got wiped out from the ward in 2021, he lost his seat too.

John Vjestica, the Labour Party's candidate for DinningtonJohn Vjestica, the Labour Party's candidate for Dinnington
John Vjestica, the Labour Party's candidate for Dinnington

When he was told there was not much on Google about him as a councillor, he said he felt he had done “a lot of useful work”.

He said: “I think in 2021 there was a national swing against Labour and all the seats were very difficult to defend at the local level and therefore I think I was not elected that time because of that effect – I didn’t take it as a personal message.

“During that period of time, I sat on the planning board and I represented them at the planning inquiry into fracking. I spoke on behalf of the people to oppose the fracking proposal – it was proposed a few miles away from here and it would have an impact on this particular ward and the area, generally.

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“We installed bollards in the two Laughton schools outside to reduce speed to improve safety.

“I supported the children’s hospice, Bluebell Wood when there was a planning development very close to their vicinity – I spoke to the planning board on their behalf to try to oppose that.

“I feel I did a lot of useful work.”

Mr Vjestica, who lives in the area, said he decided to run for the vacant seat after the outgoing (suspended) Tory councillor let people down when he didn’t attend the council meetings for six months.

When was told some people in and around Dinnington think Rotherham Council was the one that let people down in the first place, Mr Vjestica offered a different point of view.

He blamed the government.

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He said: “I think Rotherham Council had difficulties in supporting all the areas within Rotherham because of the severe cuts in funding from the central government. They’d had lost something like £200m since 2010 and that affected how well they can invest in all the different areas of the borough – including this area.

“I don’t feel they let this area down; they weren’t able to support it as much as they wanted to.”

“The funding restrictions limited the actions that have been able to be taken. I think, certainly since 2010, the reductions in funding for local governments have caused some difficulties.

“Within those restrictions, the council tried to act as well as it could do.”

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Mr Vjestica said that the problems were real but he had a plan to help the people and the area – from providing advice on the cost of living crisis to restoring a vital bus service.

He said: “I would like to help people with the cost of living crisis through providing help with Advice Hubs.

“Another thing would be to make sure the funding comes through to improve the high street."