Thousands of Sheffield voters will head to the polls today with a huge decision to make - whether the country should remain with, or leave, the European Union.
Behind the scenes, hundreds of people will be taking time out to make sure the historic EU referendum vote goes smoothly, as Sheffield Council warned of possible queues at polling stations during peak times.
The electorate for the referendum in Sheffield stands at 393,055 people - an increase of over 4,000 potential votes from May’s local elections. In total, 85,569 people have been issued with postal votes.
However, direct comparisons are difficult to draw, as non-British EU nationals living in Sheffield can vote in local elections, but not in the referendum, while British citizens registered in Sheffield living overseas can vote in the referendum, but not in the local elections.
The city has 8,632 EU-registered people who are not eligible to vote in the referendum.
The council said 1,775 British citizens living overseas registered in Sheffield, and about half of that figure have registered since the referendum was announced.
There will be 797 people working in 212 polling stations across the city.
Around 65 per cent of South Yorkshire voters - nearly two-thirds - are calling for the UK to leave the EU, according to a snap poll issued by The Star.
Over 2,100 people voted and almost two thirds said they would prefer to leave.
Others posting on The Star’s social media accounts backed the case to ‘remain’.
Dozens of readers made their views clear when reacting to our pieces on the referendum debae.
Many backing the remain camp claimed Sheffield and South Yorkshire has benefitted greatly from million of pounds of EU funding for city centre regeneration and developments.
But people backing the ‘leave’ campaign said Sheffield could cope outside the political and monetary union.
Many raised the issue of immigration and the effect it has on Sheffield and its services.
But both sides of the debate, and people undecided right up to polling day, have hit out at both campaigns’ perceived ‘scare tactics’.
Brexiter Stephen Stuart said: “We send billions to other countries in foreign aid and millions to EU every week and our yet we have to do without. Vote leave!”
In response to another Star story about council budget cuts, Luke O’Flaherty said: “£350 million a week goes to the EU yet we slash council budget? Mind blown.”
In a more humorous post, Mr O’Flaherty called for Yorkshire to ‘leave the UK’ after a possible vote to leave.
Julian Lewis Shaw had a different view and said that the region should remain in Europe but ‘leave the UK’.
In a strongly-worded post, Shane Simpson wrote: “We have been in the EU for 30 years and look at the financial mess of the last 30 years, look at the mess of the immigration and the current and past mess of the NHS, and then think about the young generation of our society - vote out so they don’t have the financial/immigration/NHS mess that we have had to cope with. Think about them.”
Michael Greenwood raised the issue of immigration from inside the EU.
“I think political elite have seriously underestimated the feelings of people about uncontrolled immigration. How can anyone think that is a good idea?”
Meanwhile David Smith added his views on immigration.
He said: “Concern about the level of uncontrolled immigration has got nothing to do with racism, in most people’s minds its to do with reality and common sense.
“Whichever way you vote do it for the right reasons.”
Zoe Cropper said: “Me and my husband have already voted by post and we are voting out.”
Peter Flynn said: Vote leave or face grave consequences.”
Stephen Clough brought up Norway - a country often discussed in the context of the UK voting to leave the EU.
He said: “Anne Tvinnereim, deputy leader of the Norwegian Centre Party, recalls the scare mongering that was heard in her country’s last referendum on EU membership. Sound familiar?
“She said: ‘People told us we would lose 100,000 jobs. They said the biggest businesses would leave Norway and there would be no more investment. And of course, it was rubbish’.
“She’s right: the year after Norway said no to the EU, unemployment went down and investment went up.”
Derek Stagg said: “If we stay in things will stay the same, if we come out of the EU things will change and no one knows how it will effect us until it happens as it is all scare mongering by both sides .
“If by any chance you are old enough to remember when we signed up it was to the Common Market in 1975 and nothing about now makes it common or equal to all.”
Sonia Wilson, who gave her view as ‘undecided’, said: “I don’t think anyone can be 100 per cent for either side. There are so many pros and cons on both sides.
Sandra Davies gave an interesting view when comparing lower turnouts for general and local elections.
She said: “At least people are showing they really are interested in politics.
“The politicians in this country need to ask themselves what they are doing wrong that the British public see no point in voting at local or general elections.”
Paul Fisher added: “I do hope turnout is high, the EU in or out campaign has been atrocious on both sides but at least its got people finally interested in voting for what they believe in.
Gary Huthwaite said: “My vote was posted a few week ago the only way to vote no queue no hassle and nothing the TV scare mongers can do to change my mind.”
Remain voter Sue Williams read an opinion piece from Andrew Vines in our sister title the Yorkshire Post to make up her mind.
She said: “The regeneration of South Yorkshire could not have happened without the vast millions of EU funding.”
But Richard Thomas said the money was recycled from British taxpayers.
“Is that the same money we paid from our taxes minus the £8 billion net we pay each year?
“Why not directly apply to our own government and take that money directly from our taxes instead of going cap in hand to the unelected EU emperors? Out for me, by the way.”
Bebhinn Larkin responded: “It’s not in the Government’s interest to put money into South Yorkshire as they don’t gain votes here.”
Craig Hewitt also said he was voting to remain.
Lauren Justice posted: “I read The Star religiously and I’m voting in.”
Mick Rose said his job ‘could depend’ on whether Britain votes to leave. He’s backing an ‘in’ vote.
Joanne Tennick, Clare Lee and Ian Robertson all declared they would be casting their ballot for the remain camp.
Yasmin Amin posted her support for staying in the EU.
“I want my country back. It used to be a country that, on a whole, would accept and absorb people from different cultures.
“Our national dish became chicken tikka massala. Jamaican music gave rise to the vibrant culture of the 70s. The Italians brought over their coffee and ice cream.
“But now with this Brexit debate, my country has become an intolerant and selfish place where working class communities have been persuaded migrants are more to blame for their problems than the super rich.
“That’s why I’m voting remain.”
Timothy Glyn Barker said: “People need to stop blaming Europe for home grown failures of councils, government and badly run industry.
“Our region has had millions from the EU that the government would never have given us.”
In a passionate post in favour of staying in the EU, Louise Singleton said: “The European migrants bring into the UK economy - 34 per cent more money than they take out.
“There won’t be more money for the NHS from a Tory government.
“What there will be is a shortage of workers, I’m not just talking about the fruit pickers that ensure UK grown food is available for us to enjoy but also the doctors and nurses in the NHS.
“Government failings have ensured that there are not enough British trained workers to staff the NHS.
“Let’s not forget this government is discouraging people to train as nurses by stopping their bursaries.
“The immigration issues come not from Europe but from rest of the world, this is a government failing to uphold their immigration policy.
“There will not be more money for schools, there will not be more money for the NHS, there will not be fewer migrants.
“These are failings of the Tory government that those a who want to vote out to have in charge.
“I fear for our workers rights that are currently safeguarded under EU law.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are things I don’t like about Europe, like the prisoners’ rights to vote but they are outweighed by funding, the European arrest warrant, trade deals and our border to France being firmly sat in France.
“Leaving the EU doesn’t stop migrants, it will stop the ones we need from working and adding to our economy.
“Fewer migrants does not mean more British jobs, it means fewer people, which means fewer jobs going around.”