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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public



Members of the public raised questions as follows:-




Woll Newall




Mr. Newall referred to the evidence gathering sessions, at which the Committee had heard evidence from a number of groups and organisations, as well as the numerous responses to the online survey, with many views being expressed about the importance of communities having a proper say and role in the decision making system.  He questioned why giving real power to communities, in the heart of the decision-making system, was not one of the fundamental principles in the report.




The Chair stated that it was not, and never had been, within the Committee’s gift to design a system in terms of how the Council would interact with the public.  He pointed out that there was a reference in the report to the effect that the Council needed to engage differently and more effectively with local communities, and stressed that further work would be undertaken in this regard.  The nature of the discussions would be dependent on the outcome of the referendum and the municipal elections to be held in May 2020.  It had not been in the Committee’s remit to make any specific suggestions or ideas in connection with locality working.  Councillor Rooney concluded by stating that the Council welcomed as much community involvement as possible, as part of any final agreed committee system.




Ruth Hubbard




(a)      By law, the Council must not use its resources to prefer one governance model over another.  The report, at Item 6, claims advantages and disadvantages of both governance systems, but does not state these.  However, threaded through the report, statements clearly steer in favour of the status quo strong leader model and away from a modern committee system.  For example, by definition, the strong leader model leaves decision-making power in the gift of the strong leader.  Will the Committee acknowledge that this is problematic (and likely a deal-breaker for Sheffielders)?




(b)      The biggest gap in the report – despite the evidence – is the continuing marginalisation of Sheffield communities and the public, the failure to commit to devolving any decision-making power or real participation.  In fact, the report appears to reiterate top-down power and “silo” communities away from decision-making, only as informants or to be consulted.  However, on another matter, it is unsurprising that a Committee made up mostly of scrutiny chairs seeks to strengthen scrutiny, particularly via pre-scrutiny, to support and recommend decisions after a close look of issues by a number of different voices.  Despite calling it “scrutiny”, it is not, in fact, exactly a key basis of how a modern system works?




The Chair indicated that he would respond to Ms. Hubberd in writing.