'Sheffield City Council has avoided questions on governance in Big City Consultation', claims councillor ahead of referendum on the way city is run

Sheffield Council’s Big City Consultation has been criticised for ‘avoiding’ questions on governance despite being prompted by a petition to change the way the city is run.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 11:41 am

So far there have been 3,112 responses to the consultation, which ends on February 14 and aims to find out what changes residents would like to see in Sheffield.

Residents were contacted through a number of ways including an online survey and events across the city.

It was triggered when a petition by It's Our City campaigners successfully called for a referendum on whether the city should be run as it currently is, with a leader and cabinet, or as a committee system.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Big City Consultation runs until February 14

The authority's overview and scrutiny committee also undertook research into how a new system could look.

But councillor Joe Otten said not enough had been done to prepare for the upcoming vote and put a motion forward for full council discussion this week.

Coun Otten said in a statement: "The 'Big City Conversation' consultation exercise has largely avoided the governance issues, has run down the clock, and prevented any consultation on the options that will be put to the referendum."

The poll will take place on the same day as the next local and police and crime commissioner elections on May 7.

Coun Otten urged elected members to do what they could before that date to address issues and said if the council acted sooner it could have prevented the £170,000 additional spend required to hold the referendum.

He said: "More timely engagement with popular calls for improved governance would have avoided the need for a costly referendum, and avoided binding the city to the result of the referendum, for better or worse.

The question that will be put to the public in May is: "How would you like Sheffield City Council to be run? By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now. Or by one or more committees made up of elected councillors?”

The issues will be discussed at a full council meeting on today, February 5.