Councillor Angela Argenzio

Greens on Sheffield City Council have marked the success of the new Committee system, nearly a year since it was introduced, replacing the old ‘Strong Leader and Cabinet’ system where all decisions were made by a small number of Councillors.

The Committee System replaced the Cabinet system following a referendum in 2021 led by the popular ‘It’s Our City’ campaign, where 65% of local people called for the change.

In a motion to be debated at the full Council on the 20th of February, Green Councillors have pointed to a number of benefits that have come from the way the Council conducts its business. These include:

All Councillors now take part in the decision-making of the Council;
This makes Councillors more accountable to the electorate due to their involvement in decision-making;
autocratic top-down decision-making is reduced by the Committee system;
the successful work, across the committees, to address the Council’s current financial crisis, with Councillors having worked together to reach an understanding of the issues and consensus over the ways to address them;
Despite the hardest ever budget shortfall this year, cross-party working has achieved a broadly balanced budget to stabilise the council for the next financial year.

Councillor Angela Argenzio who is proposing the motion said,

“No political system is perfect and the Council still has a long way to go, but the fact that most of the Council’s financial difficulties have been debated and agreed, across party, before the crunch Budget meeting on March 1st is a major achievement. This has never been achieved before and would not have been possible without the Committee system. It has brought Councillors together, across the party divides , to put tribalism aside, to understand the issues and to come to a consensus on how to address difficult problems.

Some Councillors were comfortable with the old way of working, where backbenchers and opposition parties had no say over decisions and a small elite of Councillors called the shots. Some have not understood the difference between a Cabinet member in the old system and a Committee Chair in the new system.

One area that we have not properly developed is how we engage the public in Council decision making. That has to be a strong focus for the Council going forward. Improving the way the Council works is good but if we are not properly engaging with the public then decisions are not always understood, can be misinterpreted and can be subject to political manipulation.

Getting some political groups to accept that we have a more democratic council, and that we have joint responsibility for decisions, is still work in progress. We can change the way the Council conducts business but changing the culture of the Council is still work in progress. I am optimistic and I believe we can have greater collaborative and consensual working across political groups.”


26,419 people signed the petition to call for a referendum on changing the council’s governance system. This forced the council to hold a referendum. The previous Administration declined invitations to move to a committee system voluntarily.

89,670 people (65%) voted for and 48,727 (35%) voted against a change to a modern committee system in the referendum held in May 2021.