Sheffield People’s Referendum

7th May 2020

In Sheffield City Council, decisions are currently made using the so-called ‘Strong Leader’ system, where just 10 out of 84 elected councillors have the power to make nearly all decisions. The other 74 councillors have virtually no power, so cannot represent the people that elected them. What is the point of voting if your councillor has no power? This undemocratic system was forced on Sheffield by the government in the early 2000s.

Now is your opportunity to change that.

In May 2020, Sheffield voters will have the power to force the council to change to a more democratic, Modern Committee system. In this committee-based system, all 84 councillors will have the power to do the job you elect them to do. Small groups of councillors from all parties will have to work together to make decisions and cooperate to do the best for the city.

Why now?

In August 2019, It’s Our City! submitted a petition with over 26,000 signatures from Sheffielders calling on the council to ask citizens of the city how it should be run. This petition was legally-binding, because of the power given to citizens by the government in the 2011 Localism Act.

The signatures were collected all across Sheffield, and online, for one whole year, during which time the council had a choice to change to a new decision-making system voluntarily.

This did not happen and so once the petition was submitted, the referendum was legally required.

Why we are calling for a change

So that all 84 councillors, from all parties, will have real power to represent their areas, not just 10.

So that decisions can have input from more councillors, citizens, experts and communities, and be more open and transparent.

Because a committee-based system is more flexible to cope with the issues the city might face in the future.

Because the concentration of power in the hands of just 10 councillors has led to poor and slow decision-making that doesn’t make sense.

So that councillors have to work together, focusing on what’s important for Sheffield, not wasteful, party-political tribalism.

To get rid of the current inefficient “scrutiny” process that is not needed in more modern systems.

To stop the waste of time and energy when communities often have to fight the council, only for it to change its original decision.

Because Sheffield can change to this new, more democratic and efficient Modern Committee system, without increasing spending!