Campaign group ‘weeks away’ from forcing referendum on way Sheffield Council makes decisions

Campaigners hoping to force a change in the way Sheffield Council makes decisions believe they are just weeks away from gathering the required number of signatures to trigger a referendum.

Wednesday, 12th June 2019, 9:37 am
Updated Thursday, 13th June 2019, 12:13 pm

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

It has until August 24 to gather 20,092 signatures and submit the petition to the council and the group said it has now totalled up almost 17,000 signatures.

Anne Barr.

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Anne Barr, of the group, said: “I am very confident that we will have 17,000 signatures by the weekend and we are aiming to get 21,000 by August 1 for processing reasons.

“We are aiming for 21,000 just to be on the safe side because everyone who signs it has got be registered on the Sheffield electoral roll.”

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 decisions would be taken more by committees, involving more councillors in key decisions.

It's Our City! launched its campaign in August 2018.

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

Ms Barr said: “I can’t stress enough that, without exaggerating, around 80 to 85 per cent of people we speak to have some sort of beef when we explain the situation.

“Most don’t know how the council is run and then are amazed when we explain it to them.

“If it goes to a vote, it’s not going to be divisive at all.”

Fylde Borough Council saw a similar change in governance in 2015 following a referendum 12 months previous and West Dorset District Council also made changes following a vote in 2017.

But Ms Barr said the group would ‘much prefer’ the council to change its decision-making process without holding a referendum.

She said: “We would much prefer the council to do it off its own accord because that’s to cost the city far less money.

“We would love it if it would say we are going to do this but until they do we have got to carry on and get the 21,000 signatures."

The group will be gathering signatures outside Lush on Fargate, at the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign rally both on Saturday and at Nether Edge Farmers’ Market on Sunday.

For more information visit www.itsoursheffield.co.uk or to sign the petition visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/sheffield-peoples-petition.