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.

By Lee Peace
Friday, 16 August, 2019, 07:55

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.

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.

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.”

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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.