Sheffield Council’s budget passed on second attempt after chaos at meeting

Sheffield councillors failed to approve the budget on the first attempt – leading to confusion and numerous further votes.

Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 11:33 am

There was a complex web of motions, amendments and substantives at a full council meeting before the budget was finally passed.

Lord Mayor Gail Smith had to repeatedly warn councillors to stop talking and stay in their seats as several recorded votes were taken and officers tried to count numbers.

When the vote to pass the budget failed, councillors were warned that not having a legal budget wasn’t an option and they would be brought back on Friday unless it was resolved.

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Sheffield Council failed to pass its budget the first time around. The vote was held again following legal advice from director Gillian Duckworth and Lord Mayor Gail Smith

Director of legal services Gillian Duckworth told the meeting: “This is an unusual set of circumstances as we have to set a legal budget.

“We will have to actually start again with the voting, because members have indicated that if we run it again, they may vote differently, which will save us all having to go away and come back again on Friday.

“So unfortunately, we’re going through another five lots of recorded voting in order to get to where we need to get to.”

Budget finally approved

Council Leader Terry Fox suggested parties withdrew their amendments and councillors just voted on the main budget motion. The meeting was paused while Green councillors discussed this.

There was then further advice on how amendments could be removed and another round of recorded votes.

When the budget was finally passed, the Lord Mayor thanked councillors and said: “I am so glad you finally allowed us to do this because I’m doing a sky-dive on Friday during the day so I would have brought you back Friday evening.”

Labour’s Executive member for finance, Cate McDonald, said: “To say this has been a difficult year is a real understatement.

“We have the ongoing impact of Covid, alongside significant financial pressures, on top of more than a decade of Tory austerity. As a consequence, we are facing the toughest budget that I have experienced in my 12 years as a councillor.

Sheffield Council has lost a total of £3 billion in grant funding from central government since 2010.”