Why the Lord Mayor of Sheffield could play a pivotal role this year
The job of Sheffield’s Lord Mayor is to be an ambassador for the city – wearing those recognisable chains, they spend a year visiting communities and raising thousands of pounds for charity.
The role should be completely non-political and is usually nothing more than a civic title but this year’s Lord Mayor will play a crucial part in the new coalition.
The Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party are still in discussions about what happens next. They have until the council AGM on May 19 to come up with a working solution.
Voting at full council meetings this year will probably be very close and that’s where the Lord Mayor could play a pivotal role as they chair the meetings and have the casting vote.
Traditionally each party takes it in turns to have one of their councillors as Lord Mayor. Recently, there was Magid Magid from the Greens and Labour’s Tony Downing has held the role for the past two years – his service was extended during the pandemic.
Lib Dem Gail Smith has been Deputy Lord Mayor the same amount of time and is poised to take over in May.
Councillors still have to vote in the Lord Mayor but any attempt to block Coun Smith would be seen as blatant politicking and bad sportsmanship, especially as a Lib Dem hasn’t held the role since 2013.
It’s unlikely Conservative Lewis Chinchen would want the role given he’s a brand new councillor. The Tories will want their first councillor in years to use his vote to its full potential and to be politically visible.
He’s also unlikely to be offered it as the role tends to be given to councillors with several years service under their belt.
It’s hard to predict what will happen over the next couple of weeks with coalition talks ongoing and the success of the referendum which means the current Cabinet system will be scrapped and replaced with committees.
The Lord Mayor is the first citizen of the city and will be an important figurehead through uncertain times in a post Covid Sheffield.