One Source Dec 19 Deputy Director

Tower Hamlets Dec 19 Updated 600

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Petition support means city set to hold referendum on proposed change in governance

Activists in Sheffield have used provisions of the Localism Act 2011 to require the city council to hold a referendum on ending the cabinet system and reverting to committees.

The It’s Our City group said it had collected 26,419 signatures - in excess of the 5% of electors required for a petition subject to be put to a referendum after verification of the signatures.

Two members of Sheffield’s cabinet have resigned so that they can support the campaign to return to the committee system, as have four councillors who held the roles of ‘cabinet assistant’.

It’s Our City said the cabinet system meant that only 10 of the city’s 84 councillors had a real role in making decisions.

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The group called for: “A committee-based system, which is more democratic, and where all our councillors would have a meaningful say in making decisions.

“Some people might remember that the current system was brought in to make councils less bureaucratic and more streamlined and do away the with lengthy process of arriving to decisions. We are not arguing for a return to the old system – we want to see a new model that takes the best bits of both worlds peppered with a hefty dose of public engagement.”

Former cabinet member for finance, resources and governance Olivia Blake said: “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.

“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.”

The council confirmed the petition had been received and said signatures would be checked.

Previous referendums to mandate a return to the committee system have been held successfully at Fylde Borough Council and the former West Dorset District Council.

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