Letter: There are many, many questions which need to be answered

This letter sent to the Star was written by Howard Knight, Church Street, Greasbrough, Rotherham, S61

Monday, 30th September 2019, 12:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 6:54 am
A view across Sheffield, taken from the Hicks Building. Picture: Marie Caley

Another lengthy letter from those demanding that Sheffield City Council adopt a committee system of governance, (Will Newall, Star Letters, September 16), but again without any supporting evidence for their proposition.

Isn’t there a hint of arrogance about their campaign and its name? Perhaps 25,000 have signed “It’s our city” petition, but 525,000 of us haven’t. It’s reminiscent of this week’s assertion by Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should annex the West Bank whilst ignoring the majority of its residents.

I agree that there could and should be significant improvements in the council’s system of governance, but I certainly can’t support the notion that the problem is primarily structural when it is cultural.

Neither can I support the populist nonsense that a return to the committee system is the solution. That’s rather like saying that there is something wrong with the city’s refuse collection service and then proposing it will be solved by a return to having our rubbish collected by horse and cart.

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I am extremely concerned that we are sleepwalking into changes which will put us even further behind Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham in the city’s regeneration.

This proposition demands intense scrutiny. There are many, many questions which need to be answered.

Let me start with questions for each of your correspondents: Will Newall, Ruth Hubbard, Anne Barr, Lee Rock:

What experience do you have of the governance and political management of local authorities in the UK and in other countries?

Which respected academic or consultant or practitioner in the governance and political management of local authorities did you consult before making your proposition? (Or, like Michael Gove, do you believe that we don’t need to consider the views of experts?)

What real experience do you have of the governance changes in Fylde BC?

Can you name a city, sharing Sheffield’s characteristics and the council's responsibilities, anywhere in the world, that successfully operates with the style of governance you are proposing?