‘Uncharted territory’ as parties gather for first meeting on who will run Sheffield Council

Political parties have met for the first formal discussion on who will run Sheffield Council, after Labour lost control of the local authority.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 2:36 pm

It follows a dramatic election result on Friday that saw Labour lose five seats to the Green Party and three to the Liberal Democrats – pushing the council to no overall control.

Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green Party were called together for the initial meeting at 1pm.

A final decision is not expected to be announced today but will need to be made before the annual meeting of the council on May 19.

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Sheffield City Hall

The Greens said it will be advocating a ‘rainbow cabinet’ that would see them, Labour and the Liberal Democrats share control.

Councillor Douglas Johnson, leader of Sheffield Green Party, said: “It’s what we are saying is the best thing really.

“If anything, the message from the referendum is that parties have got to work together so we are proposing that we should do – it’s the best way to do something when, in a lot of cases, people of all parties actually agree with each other more or less on most things.

“The current system creates artificial divides which allows exploitation of issues for party purposes really, so getting people to work together in a way that is much more to do with cooperative and collaborative approach to running the council.

“It’s completely uncharted territory, this council has never had a culture of collaboration. It’s always been dominance by one party or another and that’s just not helpful.”

The Liberal Democrats have not yet expressed any preference concerning how they want the council to be run.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats, said: “We are not going into this with any preconditions, for me it’s to go and listen to what other parties think and feel and what’s possible. Nothing is ruled in but nothing is ruled out as far as I’m concerned.

“It’s more important that it’s not what I want, it’s how we can best serve the people of Sheffield.”

Labour have not yet commented but following the results of the election, councillor Terry Fox, new leader of the party, said that he reached out to the Greens and the Liberal Democrats to discuss coalitions.

He said: “I have requested a sit down meeting with both the Lib Dems and the Greens to discuss going forward.

“It’s incumbent on politicians to get an administration over the line so we can start serving the people of Sheffield and I will do everything I can to get that done by May 19.”

There are several options for who could run the council and the Lord Mayor and newly elected Conservative councillor could play key roles in what happens.

Voters also decided to change the way the council is run in a governance referendum.

This means the council will change from a strong leader and cabinet model to a modern committee system but this will not be implemented until May 2022 after details of how it will operate are decided.

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.