Opinion: Sheffield councillors need to remember there are more than half a million people relying on them

Councillors have described today as ‘theatrical’, ‘chaotic’ and ‘crazy’ – to name a few – and having reported on it all unfolding in front of me I can confirm it was a rollercoaster.

Thursday, 19th May 2022, 3:52 pm

Leaders had nearly two weeks to hammer out an agreement on who will take control of what at the council after it was left in no overall control for a second consecutive year.

Yet as they took their seats in the council chamber today to declare new leadership no one – including party leaders – knew what was going to happen.

As you will read, it took two rounds of votes and serious words from council officers before leadership was settled.

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Councillors in Sheffield Town Hall.

It wasn’t until councillor Shaffaq Mohammed of the Liberal Democrats stood up and told full council he would withdraw from the leadership race that things moved forward.

He said: “In the next few weeks you are going to hear how serious the budget deficit is, how serious our reserve levels are and I am not laying it on because all three leaders have been given this briefing earlier this week.

“If we do not resolve our budget deficit then I kid you not there is real danger commissioners, appointed by a Conservative government, may come and take over and I will never allow that while I am here.

“So for the sake of Sheffield I told my colleagues that we will not be nominating myself, it’s bigger than me.”

He was given a standing ovation and thanked by fellow councillors for this.

It was a good example of how councillors will need to compromise in the best interests of the city going forward and focus on the people they are there to serve.

The council is facing extreme challenges and very tough decisions ahead, especially this year, and although working cross-party will inevitably see disagreements, councillors need to remember there are more than 550,000 people across Sheffield relying on them to do the best for them.

So as we enter this new era with the modern committee system giving all councillors greater say, let’s have better communication and collaboration that the people of Sheffield voted for.