Letter to the Sheffield Star
It seems Star letter writers Paul Birch and Howard Greaves are unaware of the significant changes that have been made at Sheffield Council this year. Thanks to the tremendous work of “It’s our City”, who secured a referendum to change how our city is governed, there is no longer a cabinet or a strong leader model in the Council. A committee system has replaced it. All councillors, from all parties, represented on the council, now take responsibility for decision-making as members of citywide Policy Committees. The Council is currently made up of 39 Labour, 29 Liberal Democrat, 14 Green, 1 Conservative and 1 Independent Councillor. Each committee is made up of Councillors in roughly the same proportion as the totals. As no party has more than half the seats, the Councillors need to work together to pass new policies.
So, much as Green Party Councillors would love to introduce Active Travel Schemes throughout the city, they are only able to with the support of other parties. Funding for these comes from central Government grants, so, it is not paid out of Council Tax. Active Travel Schemes are successful in encouraging more people to walk and cycle and leave their cars at home, reducing air pollution and emissions. The Council have declared a climate emergency and has committed to net zero by 2030. We have to get serious about this and Active Travel schemes are one tool the Council has to move things in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the Government’s austerity continues. Between 2010 and 2020 Government cuts have resulted in the Council’s spending being reduced by £211m (29%) representing a fall of £828 for every household in Sheffield. Very difficult decisions will have to be made again this year.
Ecclesall Green Party
Sheffield Greens today expressed delight at the successful outcome of the city’s governance referendum and called for a Rainbow Cabinet to take the changes forward.
The announcement followed Sheffield Green Party’s recent gains of five additional council seats, taking the councillor group to a total of thirteen and pushing the council into No Overall Control.
Douglas Johnson, newly re-elected Councillor for City Ward, said,
“I am delighted that the referendum campaign has been such a resounding and clear win for democracy. I want to thank the campaigners for all their hard work in making this an issue that people wanted to vote on.
“The people of Sheffield have firmly rejected the old ways of running the council through its so-called ‘Strong Leader.’ This followed the largest ever number of signatures on a petition to trigger a referendum of this type. Now, all councillors must come together to work up details of a new system where they all take part in decision-making in a far more open and transparent way.”
A new Administration must now be formed, with no party having overall control. The existing Cabinet system will remain in place in the interim until a new committee system can be set up.
Cllr Paul Turpin (Gleadless Valley ward) added,
“The Green councillors will now propose a Rainbow Cabinet with members from all three party groups. This is to introduce a new collaborative politics never seen in Sheffield before. We think it is the right way to reflect the clear views of the people of the city in their call for change.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The result of the governance referendum was 65% for change and 35% to keep the existing Cabinet system. The referendum was forced on the previous administration by campaigners who gathered 26,000 signatures on a petition demanding change
- The Council now has to bring a new committee system in within one year.
- The result of the local elections place Sheffield City Council into No Overall Control, with the council now made up as: Labour 41; LibDems 29; Greens 13, Conservative 1.