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Community group pressing ahead with plan to change how decisions are made at Sheffield Council

Ruth Hubbard of It's Our City makes a speech at the group's press conference announcing they will launch a petition calling for a change in the governance structure of Sheffield City Council.
Ruth Hubbard of It's Our City makes a speech at the group's press conference announcing they will launch a petition calling for a change in the governance structure of Sheffield City Council.
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Campaigners hoping to change the way decisions are made by Sheffield Council now know the required number of signatures it needs on a petition to trigger a referendum.

Members of It's Our City, which they define as a 'community-led network of Sheffield residents', are hoping to take action under the Localism Act 2011 following what co-chairman Ruth Hubbard said was a 'build of frustration' at the way council leader Julie Dore and her cabinet had made decisions in recent years.

Anne Barr of It's Our City makes a speech at the group's press conference announcing they will launch a petition calling for a change in the governance structure of Sheffield City Council.

Anne Barr of It's Our City makes a speech at the group's press conference announcing they will launch a petition calling for a change in the governance structure of Sheffield City Council.

The group met Sheffield Council officers last week and were told the minimum number of signatures required to trigger a referendum was 20,956 - five per cent of the council's electorate but they await an answer as to whether signatures on an e-petition would count.

Shelley Cockayne, of It's Our City, said: "We met the council last week and it was relatively positive. We were there for around an hour and they answered some of our questions but disappointingly they didn't have an answer about e-petitions.

"We are definitely going to do it but we might just have to do it the hard way. We are not going anywhere and we want as many people as possible to get involved."

Sheffield Council's key decisions are currently discussed at cabinet, and if approved, referred to full council to be rubber stamped but Ms Hubbard said the set-up denied councillors a voice and the chance to have a 'meaningful vote'.

Ms Hubbard said: "It is very disappointing that our ruling council administration appears so consistently not to hear the extensive disillusionment in the 'strong leader' governance of our city.

"We know there is a groundswell of support for a governance system that values the role and responsibilities of all elected members, which ensures that they all have a voice and meaningful role.

"Communities in Sheffield want to be properly heard and represented. It is now time for us to step in; we have the power - and the responsibility to do so. It's Our City! will present the required petition, and people in Sheffield will vote for a change to governance arrangements - the end of the 'strong leader'.

"This is a vital first move, necessary in asserting that this is our city, and that we want better for it and from our council."

The legislation, which was introduced as part of the Localism Act 2011, requires a petition signed by five per cent of those on the Sheffield Council electoral roll to trigger a referendum.

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.

Sheffield Council said it did not want to comment 'at this stage'.