Campaigners step up fight to force change to decision-making process at Sheffield Town Hall
Campaigners hoping to force a change in the way Sheffield Council makes decisions say they have been given new hope after a fall in the number of signatures they require to prompt a referendum.
Community group It’s Our City launched the Sheffield People’s Petition in August, with the intention of changing the decision-making process at Sheffield Town Hall.
The group is hoping to take action under the Localism Act 2011 to prompt a change from the council’s current ‘strong leader and Cabinet model’ to one where decisions would be taken more by committees, involving more councillors in key decisions.
The legislation requires a petition signed by five per cent of those on the Sheffield Council electoral roll to trigger a referendum – which the group said they’d been told was a total of 20,956.
But the figure – known as the verification number – is reviewed every February and has dropped from 20,956 to 20,092, instilling new hope into the campaign.
Shelley Cockayne, from the group, said: “While this is good news for the campaign, it is actually a sad indictment of the state of community trust, fatigue and engagement by the public with politicians, as this new figure means that people registering to vote has fallen over the year.
“Perhaps people feel they are not being listened to, which is exactly why It's Our City was created – to bring back political engagement with and ownership by our communities.
“It may not totally be the politicians’ fault, but rather that of the framework our current leaders defiantly protect to maintain control. We’re finding when we talk to people that most people think they have voted for a committee style of management and are often shocked, especially now that Cabinet member Jack Scott has been suspended and left the Cabinet, to find out that major decisions come down to now just nine people."
Ms Cockayne said the group felt on target to meet the August 24 deadline – a year after it launched the campagin – to reach the required number of signatures.
Fylde Borough Council saw a similar change in governance in 2015 following a referendum 12 months previous and West Dorset District Council also made changes following a vote last year.
For more information visit www.itsoursheffield.co.uk or to sign the petition visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/sheffield-peoples-petition.