IT’S election day. And there are double the reasons to make the effort to visit your local ballot box and cast your vote on this occasion.
For, as well as choosing a local councillor, the people of Sheffield are being asked to take part in a referendum to decide whether our city should have an elected mayor.
Earlier this week The Star staged a debate in Sheffield designed to give readers the chance to hear both sides of the argument, for and against the idea of a mayor elected by the public rather than a leader chosen by fellow councillors of the same party.
It was a lively experience and we hope that people went away a little wiser than when they came.
But we have to admit that the Government, whose idea it was to have this referendum in the first place, has sorely let down the people of Sheffield.
Frankly speaking, it has kept them unacceptably in the dark as far as details go for how an elected mayor would operate in this city.
There are elected mayors already in place around the country, but the encouragement by the Government to support the principle of creating the position in Sheffield came with vague suggestions of extra powers and that he or she would have fast-track access to Downing Street to argue our case and champion the cause of the city at the highest level.
However, all of this came with hardly any detail. And explanations of the specific powers that an elected mayor would have once in place were simply nonexistent.
Furthermore, we cannot compare a prospective Sheffield elected mayor with any other city’s mayor as it is clear that different holders of the post have different responsibilities. The Mayor of London, for example, has overall responsibility for the capital’s police force while we are adopting a completely different model here in South Yorkshire.
That said, this is a vitally important referendum. Nothing less than the future political structure of Sheffield hinges on the result.
Like many of you, we can see both sides. We share the reservations of diluting a tried and tested political model of council leader and cabinet taking primary decisions. However, we also appreciate that a single, powerful voice speaking up for Sheffield, in the form of an elected mayor, is a tantalising prospect for a new political dawn.
Scant as the details may be, we urge readers to make the effort tomorrow and vote in the referendum.
It is your democratic duty and, regardless of how you feel about the question of an elected mayor, it will be too late to complain once the decision is taken. And we are sure you would want to feel that you had at least had some influence over the final decision.