Sheffield councillors call for proportional representation in first meeting since election

The local election count gets underway at Sheffield's English Institute of Sport
Picture Dean Atkins
The local election count gets underway at Sheffield's English Institute of Sport Picture Dean Atkins
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Sheffield’s three minority parties used the first city council meeting since the election to call for a change to the voting system.

Councillors from the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and UKIP all said it was time for Sheffield to move to a form of proportional representation, rather than the current first-three-past-the-post system.

They also criticised Labour leader Julie Dore for celebrating her party’s victory with the first motion of the new council.

But Labour hit back, saying whatever system was in place they would still have won, and pointing out that the Lib Dems also celebrated victory in their first motion when they won a majority in 2008.

In his maiden speech, newly-elected Lib Dem for Beauchief and Greenhill Coun Andy Nash said the council was there to represent ‘everyone in the city’.

“In Sheffield only 13 per cent voted for the current administration,” he said, referencing a turnout of 34.59 per cent, adding: “Proportional representation seems to be the pragmatic option.”

UKIP felt particularly hard done by in May’s elections, missing out on a seat in West Ecclesfield by a single vote. Calling for a new voting system, Coun John Booker, who was elected in the ward, said: “Labour in Sheffield no longer listens to the majority of people.”

Green group leader Coun Robert Murphy said it was time for Labour to ‘embrace’ proportional representation. He added: “There are many members of your party that support it, and it might not do you much good in this chamber but it in the country you are crying out for it.”

Coun Dore defended her celebratory motion, saying it was tradition for the winning party.

She said she was proud of Labour’s record in Sheffield over the past five years, and promised there was more to come.

“What we will be doing is protecting the most vulnerable by being ambitious in the next two years as we have been in the last five.”