William Eichler 28 August 2019

Resignations at Sheffield Council in support of referendum

Two Sheffield City Council cabinet members, including the deputy leader, and four cabinet assistants have resigned in support of radically overhauling the way the council does business.

The resignations have come after the campaign group It’s Our City! collected over 25,000 petition signatures in support of abolishing the cabinet model and replacing it with the committee system.

The ‘cabinet model’ of running a local authority means that the majority of decisions are taken by the council leader and the cabinet. The ‘committee system’ would see this power exercised by committees made up of elected councillors.

It’s Our City! argues that the latter system is ‘more democratic’ because it means councillors would have a ‘meaningful say in making decisions’.

In her statement of resignation, the deputy leader Cllr Olivia Blake said that a referendum on the council’s governance structure was now ‘almost certain to be held’.

‘My preference was to resolve the debate on the council’s governance structure without the need for a referendum but now that it is almost certain to be held, it is time to take a public position on where we go next,’ she said.

‘I will take the side of the people. I will back the committee system. It is a starting point for a wider debate on how to rejuvenate our democracy, and it is important that Labour voices contribute to this debate.

‘I have added my name to the It’s Our City petition, and will make further statements in the coming days about the role I intend to play in the upcoming referendum.’

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