Residents debate value of holding referendum in Sheffield

Star readers have been debating the value of holding a referendum into the way Sheffield City Council makes decisions.

Friday, 16th August 2019, 8:55 am
Updated Friday, 16th August 2019, 8:57 am

Community group It's Out City! launched the Sheffield People’s Petition in August, with the intention of changing the decision-making process at the Town Hall.

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It has until August 24 to gather 20,092 signatures and submit the petition to the council which would kickstart the process to hold a referendum.

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Sheffield Town Hall

The group said it was ‘very confident' it would be able to do that while the council said holding a standalone referendum would cost the authority around £550,000.

However, if the vote was combined with next year's council and police and crime commissioner elections, it would leave the authority with a lesser bill of around £170,000.

After The Star reported on the story earlier this week, a number of readers took to Facebook to have their say on the matter.

Dimitris Diamandis said: “Why don't the council just make the change now and save council tax payers' money?

“The change is inevitable and people deserve a more democratic and representative system of local government where all elected councillors can have their say.”

Julie Humphries agreed that the authority could “just make the changes without it costing anything.”

She added: “To be fair £170, 000 is pretty cheap in the scale of things. The stand alone referendum figure of £550, 000 is not even worth publishing.

“Why on earth you would do it stand alone rather than a bolt on to existing elections I don't know.”

James Henderson, director of policy, performance and communications at Sheffield City Council, said: “If a valid petition is submitted then we are required to hold a referendum on changing the council’s governance system.”

It's Our City! launched their campaign last year.

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 more decisions would be taken by committees.

The legislation requires a petition signed by five per cent of those on the Sheffield City Council electoral roll to trigger a referendum, which dropped from 20,956 to 20,092 in February instilling new hope into the campaign.