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Agenda item

Notice of Motion Regarding "Empowering Local Area Committees" - Given By Councillor Andrew Sangar and To Be Seconded By Councillor Simon Clement-Jones

This this Council:-

 

(a)      believes that decisions by democratically elected councillors should be taken at the lowest practical level, so that individuals and communities are empowered to influence decisions which affect their lives;

 

(b)      believes that the new Local Area Committees are an important step in revolutionising the way the Council runs and how accountable it is to local residents, alongside the new committee system voted for by the people of Sheffield;

 

(c)      recognises that the formation of the new Local Area Committees is an important step towards giving communities across Sheffield the decision-making involvement they desire to determine their own futures;

 

(d)      understands that for this Council both the new committee system and Local Area Committees offer a great opportunity to work more constructively across political parties;

 

(e)      believes, however, that the Local Area Committees have been given relatively limited powers and budgets to spend on the priorities of local residents;

 

(f)       therefore believes that as part of its current reorganisation, this Council should investigate and explore ways that would enable many more decision making powers to be devolved to Local Area Committees;

 

(g)      requests that this Council works to devolve powers and budgets; and as a minimum, these powers must be greater than those of the community assemblies at the time when they were abolished in 2013; and that there must be a concomitant decrease in the powers of the centre;

 

(h)      believes that amongst those services where decision making powers should be devolved to Local Area Committees are libraries, parks, management of local centres and streetscene including dealing with fly-tipping;

 

(i)       also believes that areas of Council responsibility such as elements of housing, public health, local transport, highways, road safety, and youth services could benefit from localised decision making and budgeting;

 

(j)       further believes that Local Area Committees should work in partnership with other services in the community including police, health, and social care organisations to enable better co-ordination of provision;

 

(k)      believes there should be a presumption in favour of decision-making powers at the Local Area Committee level in respect of service delivery; and

 

(l)       further requests that a greater proportion of Community Infrastructure Levy and S106 funding is devolved to Ward Councillors via the Local Area Committees to allow more money to be spent in the communities which live with these new developments.

 

 

Minutes:

8.1

It was moved by Councillor Andrew Sangar, and seconded by Councillor Simon Clement-Jones, that this Council:-

 

 

 

 

 

(a)      believes that decisions by democratically elected councillors should be taken at the lowest practical level, so that individuals and communities are empowered to influence decisions which affect their lives;

 

 

 

 

 

(b)      believes that the new Local Area Committees are an important step in revolutionising the way the Council runs and how accountable it is to local residents, alongside the new committee system voted for by the people of Sheffield;

 

 

 

 

 

(c)      recognises that the formation of the new Local Area Committees is an important step towards giving communities across Sheffield the decision-making involvement they desire to determine their own futures;

 

 

 

 

 

(d)      understands that for this Council both the new committee system and Local Area Committees offer a great opportunity to work more constructively across political parties;

 

 

 

 

 

(e)      believes, however, that the Local Area Committees have been given relatively limited powers and budgets to spend on the priorities of local residents;

 

 

 

 

 

(f)       therefore believes that as part of its current reorganisation, this Council should investigate and explore ways that would enable many more decision making powers to be devolved to Local Area Committees;

 

 

 

 

 

(g)      requests that this Council works to devolve powers and budgets; and as a minimum, these powers must be greater than those of the community assemblies at the time when they were abolished in 2013; and that there must be a concomitant decrease in the powers of the centre;

 

 

 

 

 

(h)      believes that amongst those services where decision making powers should be devolved to Local Area Committees are libraries, parks, management of local centres and streetscene including dealing with fly-tipping;

 

 

 

 

 

(i)       also believes that areas of Council responsibility such as elements of housing, public health, local transport, highways, road safety, and youth services could benefit from localised decision making and budgeting;

 

 

 

 

 

(j)       further believes that Local Area Committees should work in partnership with other services in the community including police, health, and social care organisations to enable better co-ordination of provision;

 

 

 

 

 

(k)      believes there should be a presumption in favour of decision-making powers at the Local Area Committee level in respect of service delivery; and

 

 

 

 

 

(l)       further requests that a greater proportion of Community Infrastructure Levy and S106 funding is devolved to Ward Councillors via the Local Area Committees to allow more money to be spent in the communities which live with these new developments.

 

 

 

 

8.2

Whereupon, it was moved by Councillor Mary Lea, and seconded by Councillor Fran Belbin, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of paragraphs (a) to (l) and the addition of new paragraphs (a) to (h) as follows:-

 

 

 

 

 

(a)      notes that the previous Administration set-up Local Area Committees to revolutionise how citizens can influence the decisions that matter to communities, committing to a modern way of engaging, empowering and enabling residents to shape their local areas;

 

 

 

 

 

(b)      notes that the Labour–Green Co-Operative Agreement committed to implementing and empowering the new Local Area Committees - giving power back to Sheffield’s communities, devolving services to local areas, and giving local people a real say over decisions that affect their communities;

 

 

 

 

 

(c)      notes that the Committees are already going further than the previous Community Assemblies, whilst doing so with council finances significantly weaker than they were ten years ago – as since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition began the national programme of austerity in 2010 (which is still with us), the Council has had its spending power reduced in real terms by £215m (31% of its budget);

 

 

 

 

 

(d)      notes that despite the financial difficulties, this Co-operative Administration is committed to making politics closer to the people it should serve and so that citizens can influence the decisions that matter to them and their communities and be empowered to shape their local areas, but doing so in a fair and prudent way;

 

 

 

 

 

(e)      notes that on 17th November the delegation process was informally agreed by the Local Area Committee Chairs, denoting that there is a process in place supported cross-party;

 

 

 

 

 

(f)       believes the delegation process outlined will empower the LACs from the ‘bottom up’ as well as provide a robust process for the delegation from the ‘top down’ to the LACs from the central committees;

 

 

 

 

 

(g)      believes that this is far from a return to Community Assemblies, and that the new arrangements will go much further than they ever did in empowering committees and making the Council more accountable and closer to local needs, but that devolution is a process, not an event, and that this Co-operative Administration remains steadfast in its commitment of making the Council closer to Sheffielders;

 

 

 

 

 

(h)      believes that the Local Area Committees are:-

 

 

 

 

 

(i)       becoming the principal means by which the Council engages, empowers, enables, and seeks the active participation of all residents and community organisations on any topic of local interest;

 

 

 

 

 

(ii)       actively utilising all available communication methods, including social media, and where possible using virtual meeting technology;

 

 

 

 

 

(iii)      providing a geographical framework that, over time, will be used to prioritise and direct the local delivery of an increasing number of Council services;

 

 

 

 

 

(iv)      starting the co-production of their area’s Community Plan, and have began making decisions about funding in local areas, even at this early stage;

 

 

 

 

 

(v)      already helping keep the Council – both employees and councillors – rooted in the communities they serve, and ensuring that decisions are devolved to a local level, rather than all being made centrally in town hall, which remains a key objective of this Co-operative Administration;

 

 

 

 

 

(vi)      identifying how to use the additional £100k committed by the previous Administration to each LAC for improving the local environment – including tackling fly-tipping, litter and graffiti;

 

 

 

 

 

(vii)     identifying how to improve community safety and cohesion, and use street wardens most effectively;

 

 

 

 

 

(viii)    identifying the gaps within youth provision and how to best resolve these, specific to each area;

 

 

 

 

 

(ix)      providing housing reports, including on housing repairs, and scrutinising and holding the Council’s housing service to account; and

 

 

 

 

 

(x)      responding to local issues, new and historic.

 

 

 

 

8.3

It was then moved by Councillor Peter Garbutt, and seconded by Councillor Christine Gilligan, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of paragraphs (b) to (l) and the addition of new paragraphs (b) to (h) as follows:-

 

 

 

 

 

(b)      believes that, whilst local area working is a good thing to connect communities, the structure of Local Area Committees was imposed centrally and rushed through without consultation;

 

 

 

 

 

(c)      believes the current size of Local Area Committees is too large (approx 80,000) and acknowledges the Council’s own recognition that Sheffield has between 100 - 152 neighbourhoods;

 

 

 

 

 

(d)      believes that, whilst some decisions should be made at a LAC or ward level (or more locally still), other decisions must be made at a local authority level, such examples include:-

 

 

 

 

 

(i)       road safety - where the locations of greatest danger should be tackled first, regardless of where they are in the city;

 

 

 

 

 

(ii)       fly-tipping, which must be managed centrally, with resources directed to areas of greatest need; and

 

 

 

 

 

(iii)      parks maintenance requires machinery and staff to work across large areas of the city, which is most effectively and efficiently managed centrally;

 

 

 

 

 

(e)      believes in the principle of equity that areas with the greatest need should be allocated the greatest share of resources, and that an even distribution of funding across LACs fails to achieve this;

 

 

 

 

 

(f)       believes that the spirit of cooperation needed to begin to accommodate community voices into decision making requires all political groups to set aside their differences and work together for the good of all Sheffielders;

 

 

 

 

 

(g)      therefore believes that as part of its current reorganisation, this Council should investigate the recommendations of the Citizens Hubs report by Opus Independents Ltd, alongside consulting with all 84 elected members on their ideas and opinions on how local area decision making within communities and with local residents can work better; and

 

 

 

 

 

(h)      believes that local area working requires listening to and engaging all voices of the community, including the seldom heard, and that more outreach into communities is required by the Council to achieve this.

 

 

 

 

8.4

After contributions from four other Members, and following a right of reply from Councillor Andrew Sangar, the amendment moved by Councillor Mary Lea was put to the vote and was carried, except for paragraphs (a) and (h) which were negatived.

 

 

 

 

8.5

The amendment moved by Councillor Peter Garbutt was then put to the vote and was carried, except for paragraphs (b) to (d) which were negatived.

 

 

 

 

8.5.1

The votes on the amendment moved by Councillor Peter Garbutt were ordered to be recorded and were as follows:-

 

 

 

 

 

For paragraphs (b) to (d) of the amendment (11)

-

Councillors Angela Argenzio, Brian Holmshaw, Kaltum Rivers, Douglas Johnson, Ruth Mersereau, Martin Phipps, Alexi Dimond, Paul Turpin, Christine Gilligan, Peter Garbutt and Bernard Little.

 

 

 

 

 

Against paragraphs (b) to (d) of the amendment (55)

-

The Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) and Councillors Simon Clement-Jones, Richard Shaw, Sophie Thornton, Chris Rosling-Josephs, Ann Woolhouse, Denise Fox, Bryan Lodge, Karen McGowan, Talib Hussain, Mark Jones, Tim Huggan, Mohammed Mahroof, Ruth Milsom, Mary Lea, Zahira Naz, Joe Otten, Colin Ross, Martin Smith, Vic Bowden, Alan Woodcock, Roger Davison, Barbara Masters, Shaffaq Mohammed, Fran Belbin, Abdul Khayum, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Cliff Woodcraft, Cate McDonald, Ian Auckland, Steve Ayris, George Lindars-Hammond, Josie Paszek, Terry Fox, Anne Murphy, Kevin Oxley, Jack Scott, Sophie Wilson,David Barker, Dianne Hurst, Dawn Dale, Peter Price, Garry Weatherall, Mike Chaplin, Jayne Dunn, Penny Baker, Richard Williams, Lewis Chinchen, Julie Grocutt, Ben Curran, Alan Hooper, Mike Levery, Ann Whitaker and Paul Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

Abstained from voting on paragraphs (b) to (d) of the amendment (1)

-

The Lord Mayor (Councillor Gail Smith).

 

 

 

 

 

For paragraphs (e) to (h) of the amendment (40)

-

The Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) and Councillors Chris Rosling-Josephs, Denise Fox, Bryan Lodge, Karen McGowan, Angela Argenzio, Brian Holmshaw, Kaltum Rivers, Talib Hussain, Mark Jones, Douglas Johnson, Ruth Mersereau, Martin Phipps, Ruth Milsom, Mary Lea, Zahira Naz, Fran Belbin, Abdul Khayum, Alexi Dimond, Cate McDonald, Paul Turpin, Christine Gilligan, George Lindars-Hammond, Josie Paszek, Terry Fox, Anne Murphy, Peter Garbutt, Jack Scott, Sophie Wilson, David Barker, Dianne Hurst, Dawn Dale, Peter Price, Garry Weatherall, Mike Chaplin, Jayne Dunn, Julie Grocutt, Ben Curran, Bernard Little and Paul Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

Against paragraphs (e) to (h) of the amendment (26)

-

Councillors Simon Clement-Jones, Richard Shaw, Sophie Thornton, Ann Woolhouse, Tim Huggan, Mohammed Mahroof, Joe Otten, Colin Ross, Martin Smith, Vic Bowden, Alan Woodcock, Roger Davison, Barbara Masters, Shaffaq Mohammed, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Cliff Woodcraft, Ian Auckland, Steve Ayris, Kevin Oxley, Penny Baker, Richard Williams, Lewis Chinchen, Alan Hooper, Mike Levery and Ann Whitaker.

 

 

 

 

 

Abstained from voting on paragraphs (e) to (h) of the amendment (1)

-

The Lord Mayor (Councillor Gail Smith).

 

 

 

8.6

The original Motion, as amended, was then put as a Substantive Motion in the following form and carried:-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RESOLVED: That this Council:-

 

 

 

 

 

(a)      notes that the Labour–Green Co-Operative Agreement committed to implementing and empowering the new Local Area Committees - giving power back to Sheffield’s communities, devolving services to local areas, and giving local people a real say over decisions that affect their communities;

 

 

 

 

 

(b)      notes that the Committees are already going further than the previous Community Assemblies, whilst doing so with council finances significantly weaker than they were ten years ago – as since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition began the national programme of austerity in 2010 (which is still with us), the Council has had its spending power reduced in real terms by £215m (31% of its budget);

 

 

 

 

 

(c)      notes that despite the financial difficulties, this Co-operative Administration is committed to making politics closer to the people it should serve and so that citizens can influence the decisions that matter to them and their communities and be empowered to shape their local areas, but doing so in a fair and prudent way;

 

 

 

 

 

(d)      notes that on 17th November the delegation process was informally agreed by the Local Area Committee Chairs, denoting that there is a process in place supported cross-party;

 

 

 

 

 

(e)      believes the delegation process outlined will empower the LACs from the ‘bottom up’ as well as provide a robust process for the delegation from the ‘top down’ to the LACs from the central committees;

 

 

 

 

 

(f)       believes that this is far from a return to Community Assemblies, and that the new arrangements will go much further than they ever did in empowering committees and making the Council more accountable and closer to local needs, but that devolution is a process, not an event, and that this Co-operative Administration remains steadfast in its commitment of making the Council closer to Sheffielders;

 

 

 

 

 

(g)      believes in the principle of equity that areas with the greatest need should be allocated the greatest share of resources, and that an even distribution of funding across LACs fails to achieve this;

 

 

 

 

 

(h)      believes that the spirit of cooperation needed to begin to accommodate community voices into decision making requires all political groups to set aside their differences and work together for the good of all Sheffielders;

 

 

 

 

 

(i)       therefore believes that as part of its current reorganisation, this Council should investigate the recommendations of the Citizens Hubs report by Opus Independents Ltd, alongside consulting with all 84 elected members on their ideas and opinions on how local area decision making within communities and with local residents can work better; and

 

 

 

 

 

(j)       believes that local area working requires listening to and engaging all voices of the community, including the seldom heard, and that more outreach into communities is required by the Council to achieve this;