Council Leader responds after deputy’s sudden resignation

A leaked email has revealed the Leader of Sheffield Council is due to meet It’s Our City campaigners to “discuss a way forward”.
Coun Olivia Blake (left) and Coun Julie DoreCoun Olivia Blake (left) and Coun Julie Dore
Coun Olivia Blake (left) and Coun Julie Dore

Council Leader Julie Dore has cut a holiday short to deal with the aftermath of the sudden resignation of Deputy Council Leader Olivia Blake.

She sent the email to the Labour Group the morning after her deputy’s departure on Friday afternoon.

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Coun Blake sensationally quit just two hours after a 26,000-name petition was handed into the Town Hall condemning the way the council is run.

It’s Our City campaigners look set to force a referendum where voters will be asked whether to switch from the ruling Cabinet to a committee system.

In an email to colleagues, Coun Dore says following a Labour Group meeting in July she wrote to Nigel Slack, the co-chair of It’s Our City, who she had been in “regular dialogue” with about the petition.

Her email says: “I asked Nigel if he would convene a meeting with It’s Our City and discuss a way forward. He responded positively and asked to meet me individually first. That meeting with Mr Slack is in the diary. So we are currently in dialogue with It’s Our City.”

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The Labour Group had voted in July to meet with campaigners and try to “negotiate” and avoid a referendum.

Cabinet member Coun Lewis Dagnall wanted Labour to “voluntarily change” to a committee system but his idea was voted down.

Coun Dore’s email adds: “Since the group meeting in July I’ve done what was agreed by group and we are progressing it.

“The only other option, as Olivia has advocated in the press, would have been for me to say we are now moving to a committee system.

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“However that proposal was put forward at group and rejected. Which – ironically given the issues in this petition – would have meant me as the Leader unilaterally overturning what was agreed at group in July.

“Hopefully this explains where we have got to since the group meeting in July, I’m sure we will have further discussions at the next group meeting.”

When contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Coun Dore said: “Clearly I can’t comment on internal Labour Group correspondence, but I have previously been in touch with It’s Our City campaigners and I’ve committed to meet with them and will approach what they say in good faith and will be continuing the dialogue in that spirit.”