Sheffield People’s Petition
On 25th of August 2018, It’s Our City! started a petition to force Sheffield City Council to hold a referendum on making the council more democratic.
The council now runs on a so-called ‘strong leader model’, which was imposed on all large local authorities in the early 2000s. Since the Localism Act of 2011, however, councils do not have to run under this model.
Since the decisions ultimately lie with the leader and the cabinet, your local councillor (unless they happen to be a cabinet member) has virtually no power to work on your behalf.
The Localism Act 2011 gives power to communities to petition their council to adopt a reformed Committee style of governance. If 5% of voters in Sheffield signed our petition (20,092 at the time), this would force a city-wide referendum asking whether to change the system or keep it as it was.
In the end, thanks to a massive effort by countless volunteers, we gathered just over 26,000 signatures on paper and online and submitted the petition to the council in August 2019.
This was triggered a referendum, which was meant to be held at the next local elections on 7th May 2020.
However, this was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the referendum is now scheduled for 6th May 2021.
In this campaign, we learned lots of things that people in other places might find useful if they want to petition their council for change of governance. We have put together some tips which can be found on this page.