Councillor calls for break to focus on referendum

A councillor has called for a break for all members of a committee to focus on preparing for a referendum on how Sheffield Council is run.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 4:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 4:57 pm
Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards at a stall in the Moor Market where councillors were talking to residents about how the city should be run.

Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards said all those on the overview and scrutiny committee should clear time from normal duties to carry out thorough investigations into the possible committee options.

During the latest committee meeting she said: “If we’re taking this seriously all of us will have to block off some large pieces of time we’re willing to devote to this. So that might be saying for a fortnight or three weeks we will do nothing else but this. I know I can see people grimacing but if we are going to be serious about going to examine and also have people come to talk to us then I think we need to go to places like Reading, Kent, Brighton, Sutton to see what their committee arrangements are like. I think just having a report on it isn’t enough.

“We should also go to places like South Gloucester, which went for a committee system then rushed back from it six months later. I would also like to talk to Rotherham which has a new version which is a slightly more hybrid version of scrutiny where they pre-policy scrutinise everything which means every member gets the chance to look at policies before they’re enacted and make all sorts of amendments.

“It is going to mean reading lots of documents which officers are going to produce for us.

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“If we’ve had 20,000 people ask for this the least we can do is make sure we are taking this very seriously and robustly.”

The council only has two months to consult before pulling together findings and reporting to full council with a report on January 8.

The overview and scrutiny committee has been tasked with carrying out the work and forming recommendations for how a committee system would work.

The referendum was triggered when campaign group It’s Our City gathered more than five percent of the electorate’s signatures on a petition.

The poll will be held on or before the next local elections which are set for May 7, 2020.