No openness at Sheffield City Council, say opposition politicians

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed
Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed
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Opposition politicians on Sheffield City Council plan to challenge the ruling Labour Cabinet on what they describe as ‘a lack of transparency’ in decision making.

The motion, to be introduced at next week’s meeting of full council has been proposed by Liberal Democrat group leader Shaffaq Mohammed and seconded by Councillor Rob Murphy, speaker for the Greens.

They are calling for the authority to introduce a cross-party committee system to allow fuller scrutiny of council decisions, saying that even backbench Labour councillors have called in decisions made by their own cabinet.

Councillor Mohammed said: “At the moment there’s a distinct lack of accountability and openness.

“There are 84 councillors on the city council and only 10 are actually making decisions. It’s bad for the opposition but in the last year we have seen Labour councillors calling in decisions made by their own cabinet.”

He criticised the cabinet’s secrecy over the planned sale of Sheffield’s Central Library, as well as the decision to turn the historic Mount Pleasant Building in Sharrow into a care home - with both decisions called in but passed due to Labour block voting.

The Lib Dems have also previously criticised the Labour Cabinet for a lack of transparency over members’ dealings with both Amey and Chinese investors.

“The Labour Party has lost ground to the opposition in Sheffield in recent elections and I think it’s time for Julie Dore and her cabinet to reflect on that,” Coun Mohammed added.

“We haven’t seen any decisions that have been called in overturned - scrutiny at Sheffield City Council really isn’t working at the moment.”

Coun Murphy added: “Nearly 6 out of 10 voters in Sheffield chose parties other than Labour in this year’s council elections. For the good of our democracy it is vital that their voices are heard. The committee system would bring government closer to the people, by bringing more responsibility to their own ward councillors.”

Sheffield Labour Group has been contacted for comment.