Council hits out at mayor ballot cost

Council leader Coun Julie Dore
Council leader Coun Julie Dore
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PLANS to create an elected mayor for Sheffield could cost up to £850,000 and city councillors from both the city’s main political parties are urging the Government to pay the bill.

Opposition Lib Dems on Sheffield Council say the cost of a referendum could be £250,000 even if held alongside local elections - and if the vote was in favour of having an elected mayor, the further election would cost £600,000.

Lib Dem leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: “Having an elected mayor in Sheffield is not something people are crying out for.

“I don’t want it, council leader Julie Dore doesn’t and neither Paul Scriven nor Jan Wilson wanted it.

“The cost of holding a referendum and subsequent election would take money which could be used for public services. The Government should put its hands in its pockets.”

Ruling Labour council leader Coun Julie Dore puts the cost of holding a referendum lower, at £100,000 - but supported the call for the Government to foot the bill.

Coun Dore said: “Because it looks like the Government will force us to do this, we would expect that the Government would fund the cost of holding both the referendum and a subsequent election if the people of Sheffield vote in favour.

“The referendum cost would be kept to £100,000 if we were able to hold it at the same time as local elections, because the bulk of the costs of running the election would already be covered, but holding a mayoral election at a separate time would cost another £600,000.”

Coun Dore said the people of Sheffield ‘have not shown an appetite for’ an elected mayor’ in public consultation carried out by the previous Lib Dem administration, when residents were urged to give their views on the council’s website or write in.

She added: “We are being forced to spend on an election the people haven’t demonstrated they want - when money is tight.

“Even if the funding does not come out of the council’s budget, the public will still be paying the bill from their taxes.”