Three more resignations in Labour – including Cabinet member

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A Cabinet member and two Labour councillors have quit their positions in a turbulent weekend for Sheffield politics.

Coun Lewis Dagnall has resigned as Cabinet member for environment, streetscene and climate change. He is married to Coun Olivia Blake, who sensationally quit on Friday as Deputy Leader of Sheffield Council.

Coun Dagnall was joined by Labour councillors Sophie Wilson and Fran Johnson, who have both quit their cabinet advisor roles. Coun Wilson was cabinet advisor for neighbourhoods and community safety while Coun Johnson was cabinet advisor for health and social care.

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The resignations have fuelled speculation as to whether there will be a vote of no confidence and a leadership challenge against Council Leader Julie Dore.

Sheffield Labour Councillors Fran Johnson, Lewis Dagnall and Sophie Wilson Pic Steve EllisSheffield Labour Councillors Fran Johnson, Lewis Dagnall and Sophie Wilson Pic Steve Ellis
Sheffield Labour Councillors Fran Johnson, Lewis Dagnall and Sophie Wilson Pic Steve Ellis

The councillors would not be drawn on this but said they hoped Labour colleagues would “stand on their principles”.

Coun Johnson read a statement from the three councillors in the Winter Garden: “We are here today to support Olivia Blake in her brave and principled stand.

“We have therefore resigned our positions as Cabinet assistants and Cabinet member.

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“This gives us the freedom to campaign both for democratic reform, but also for a radical Labour Government and Labour Council that puts the people first.”

The four will remain as councillors and have strongly denied they are switching to another party, saying they are committed to Labour.

All four have made the break following a petition by It’s Our City campaigners. The 26,000 name petition was handed in to the council on Friday and looks set to trigger a citywide referendum.

Campaigners want a committee system, rather than a ruling Cabinet, as they believe it’s better for democracy.

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The four councillors have all signed the petition and say they will be working with campaigners on the referendum.

The statement said: “Together we represent a diverse range of communities in the city.

“What unites the communities we represent is the devastation of a decade of austerity cuts and regressive Tory policies. Most people we represent feel that politics let them down.

“And so, the issue of a healthy democracy is one that resonates across all areas of Sheffield.

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“We want everyone to be able to participate actively in their community. This means more than just a vote at election time.

“And the Labour Party, the Party established to give a voice to working people excluded from politics, should be at the forefront of democratic renewal.

“Labour has made significant achievements in Sheffield, despite exceptionally hard circumstances. We have shielded the most vulnerable. We have promoted a Living Wage. We have reversed privatisation and made public services public again.

“The committee system is a strong step in the right direction, it’s simply the right thing to do and the right thing for Sheffield.

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“We are sure that our decision today will strengthen the Labour Party, which we are all absolutely committed to.

“We look forward to making further announcements on how we will be taking part in the referendum and the broader conversation on democracy in the city.”

Council Leader Julie Dore was unavailable for comment.