Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions and Other Communications

To receive any questions or petitions from the public, or communications submitted by the Lord Mayor or the Chief Executive and to pass such resolutions thereon as the Council Procedure Rules permit and as may be deemed expedient.



(NOTE: There is a time limit of one hour for the above item of business.  In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website, questions/petitions are required to be submitted in writing, to, by 9.00 a.m. on Thursday 16th February. Questions/petitions submitted after the deadline will be asked at the meeting subject to the discretion of the Chair.)




Lord Mayor’s Communications




The Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) referred to the anniversary, on 24th February, of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War which began in 2014. She reported that on Thursday 23rd February, there would be a service in the Cathedral and also a photographic display, with the Service beginning at 6.30 p.m., and added that on Friday 24th February at 6.00 pm in the Winter Gardens, there would be a display of angels on a large tree, representing children that have died during the conflict.  She stated that Members of the Council were welcome to attend either of these events and the Lord Mayor’s office had issued email invites to that effect.




The Lord Mayor also reported that she had been incredibly privileged to travel to London recently to watch the London premiere of “Standing at the Skye’s Edge”, which had transferred from the Crucible Theatre to the National Theatre.  She commented that the production was stunning and the London audience were absolutely wowed by it, giving it a standing ovation at the end.  She added that the newspaper reviews generally considered it to be a Sheffield success, and she wished to congratulate the Crucible Theatre and the people of Sheffield who inspired it.




Earthquake in Turkey and Syria




The Lord Mayor reported that, in attendance at the meeting, were a group of students from the University of Sheffield, who were members of the Turkish society. The students had operated a fundraising stall at the University Students’ Union each day selling Turkish cakes, pastries and breads to raise funds for the Turkey/Syria earthquake emergency appeal.  She commented that she and the Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross) had visited the stall during the week and that the stall had been well attended, with people buying the goods and making donations in support of the people of Turkey and Syria affected by the recent earthquake.  The Lord Mayor stated that she had invited the students to come to the Council meeting to talk about the earthquake disaster which has affected Turkey and Syria, to outline what was happening back home in Turkey.




A representative from the University of Sheffield Turkish society spoke about the devastating impacts of the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and urged people to support the earthquake victims.  She thanked the Lord Mayor for her kind invitation to attend and speak at the meeting.




She stated that the recent earthquakes in Turkey had devastated nearly 20% of the country and resulted in over 40,000 deaths, with that number continuing to increase, and had left hundreds of thousands of citizens injured and in urgent need of basic necessities such as food and water.  The harsh freezing conditions was making life even more challenging for the survivors and urgent action was required in order to provide aid.  Critical infrastructure in Turkey, such as hospitals, schools, roads, public buildings and industrial areas had suffered significant damage.  Ongoing disruption to businesses and economic activity were adding to the instability.  Those impacted had not only lost their homes, but also their hope, shattered by loss and trauma.  Children had been trapped under debris for many hours, tragically some alongside deceased family members.  Homeless refugees once again faced dislocation and the whole nation was in shock and pain, with the ever-present anxiety of potential future earthquakes on unbroken fault lines. 




She stated that the help and support that had been received so far from the people of the United Kingdom was sincerely appreciated, but given the magnitude of the disaster, more support was required.  As students from Turkey, they felt anxious being away from their loved ones, and in order to ease their worries and show. solidarity, they had organised fundraising activities.  As well as emergency support, continuing support would be needed in the longer term in order to rebuild the country, including safer buildings, better planned cities, better policies and well-educated citizens to implement these changes. Multi-layered cities with rich historic culture must be resurrected, such as Hatay, where members of different religions and ethnicities have lived together in peace for centuries, but where 80% of Hatay was heavily damaged, including its unique historic urban fabric. The population needed to heal from the traumas while rebuilding their country.




She commented that it was vital to raise awareness about the situation in Turkey and in Syria and encourage people to donate to the relief efforts.  There were several charities and organisations, such as Turkey Ministry Of Interior Disaster And Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), UNICEF, British Red Cross and Save the Children, as well as many others, to where donations could be directed.  Each of those organisations have been working on the ground in Turkey to provide critical aid to the earthquake victims.  There was also the local community fundraising campaign, through the University of Sheffield Turkish Society. Donations would make a difference to the lives of those affected by the disaster.




She stated that, as the rebuilding of the country will take many years, it was hoped that long-term partnerships could be established between Turkish and British organisations, such as bridging local “angels” from both countries to provide emotional support to the affected communities and alleviate isolation.  She suggested that Sheffield City Council may wish to consider adopting a sister city in the earthquake zone in the future to provide direct support and foster cultural aid exchange.  The disaster required collective efforts and any support would be appreciated.




She concluded her contribution by reiterating that Turkey and Syria required urgent and continued support and she urged people to help the earthquake emergency appeal by donating to an organisation of their choice and spreading the word to their wider networks by sharing donation links and fundraising campaign information on social media and other communication channels.  She also expressed appreciation for the Council’s support for the University’s fundraising campaign and its dissemination throughout Sheffield. Additionally, she requested the Council to help efforts to establish partnerships between local Turkish and British organisations.




The Lord Mayor thanked the students for attending the meeting, and stated that collections had been held by the political groups on the Council and a further collection would be made at this meeting, and these would be donated to the Disaster Emergencies Committee Earthquake Appeal with the Government having promised to provide match funding against funds raised from the public. 




Petitions and Public Questions




The Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) reported that six petitions and questions from six members of the public had been received prior to the published deadline for submission of petitions and questions for this meeting.  Representations were to be made on behalf of the petitioners on four of the petitions and the other two petitions would be received in the absence of a speaker.








Petition Requesting the Council’s Support for the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons




The Council received a petition containing 62 signatures requesting the Council’s support for the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.




Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by June Cattell and Hilary Smith. 




June Cattell




Ms. Cattell stated that she was representing Sheffield Creative Action for Peace which is a group affiliated to Yorkshire CND.  She commented that prior to presenting this petition, the group had sent a letter and email to all Members of the Council explaining the issue, a copy of the Nuclear Ban Communities pledge for Members to sign and a book-mark which was hoped would provide a continual reminder to campaign for the banning of nuclear weapons.




She commented that the petition called for Sheffield City Council to sign the pledge showing that this Council supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and calling on the British Government to also sign it. She reported that the pledge can also be signed by individual Councillors and added that all Members will have received a copy for them to sign and return.




Ms. Cattell stated that she was sure that everyone in the Council Chamber would be against nuclear weapons. Any one of the politicians or political groups on the Council could submit a notice of motion for the Council to discuss and vote on this important issue of banning nuclear weapons, and hopefully add the Council’s name to the list of 27 other councils, including neighbouring authorities of Leeds and Manchester, who have already signed the petition for the banning of nuclear weapons, alongside the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and our twin city, Bochum in Germany.




She stated that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a significant milestone in the abolition of nuclear weapons.  122 countries (over two thirds of the world’s nations) have voted to adopt the Treaty. 69 countries have now signed the Treaty and their governments have ratified it. Civil societies (ordinary people like us) throughout the world have also campaigned for it. United Nations treaties like the TPNW do have an impact and they can gradually change people’s views and governments’ views about nuclear weapons, just as they did in regards to chemical weapons.  She added that, to its shame, Britain, like other nuclear states, did not even take part in the discussions at the United Nations.




Ms. Cattell stated that Sheffield has a proud history in anti-nuclear campaigning. In 1980 it declared itself a nuclear free zone, along with many other local authorities. There was even a postcard to celebrate it. Sheffield is also, to its credit, a member of Mayors for Peace, and signing the pledge is therefore entirely consistent with this.




She asked that Members of the Council sign the pledge as an individual, and that any of the political groups on the Council bring forward a motion so that you can, as a Council, sign the pledge and be able to say that Sheffield City Council is against nuclear weapons.




She added that this would be entirely consistent with public views.  In 2021, a poll indicated that 59% of people favoured signing the TPNW and 77% of people supported a total ban on nuclear weapons.




Ms. Cattell concluded her representations by stating that everyone knows the horrors of nuclear war, such as occurred at Nagasaki, and therefore urged the Council to sign the pledge in the interests of protecting the citizens of Sheffield.




Hilary Smith




Ms. Smith stated that not signing the Treaty is not a neutral act. It would mean that you are content that there were no credible international initiatives to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons, and that you were content that Britain was increasing its nuclear weapons capability. It would also ignore the views of the 122 countries which have signed the Treaty, of which many were located in the global south, and thus, ignoring the Treaty would represent old, imperialist attitudes.  She commented that not supporting the Treaty ignores the fact that nuclear weapons take lives and ruin lives every day through the legacy of development, of testing and of use, and she added that this Treaty was the first to enact a credible plan for reparations and for remediation for those suffering the consequences.  Ms. Smith stated that not supporting the Treaty means that you accept the reality that Sheffield people could not be protected in the event of a nuclear attack or accident, and that not signing the Treaty means that you are not interested in the fact that all nuclear weapons production, like all military production, is exempt from the Paris protocol on climate change.




Ms. Smith concluded her representations by stating that every political party claims to support multi-lateral nuclear disarmament, and that this is exactly what this Treaty does, as it engages all countries in carefully thought out processes, of firstly removing nuclear weapons from active readiness, through to their destruction.  She commented that the UK should actively participate to listen and engage in the discussions about the work and development of the Treaty and stated that the people of Sheffield deserve the Council’s active support in calling on the Government to do so.




The petition was referred to the Leader of the Council (Councillor Terry Fox) to respond.  Councillor Fox thanked Ms. Cattell and Ms. Smith for submitting the petition and referred to a recent visit to the city by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine, who told the Council about the horrific circumstances being faced by citizens of Ukraine as part of the ongoing conflict with Russia, and this highlighted the horrors from deployment of military weapons of any form.  Councillor Fox said that he was proud to spend some time with them and discuss the issues they were dealing with on a day-to-day basis.  He added that, ultimately, this was a matter for the UK Government, but that the Council would be happy to receive and debate any Notice of Motion that was put forward on the matter by one of the political groups on the Council, although it would now be several months until the next opportunity to do so.  He urged the petitioners to continue with their campaign.




The Council noted the petition and response from Councillor Fox.




Petition Requesting the Council to Speed Up its Response to the Climate Change Emergency




The Council received an electronic petition containing 339 signatures, requesting the Council to speed up its response to the climate change emergency.




Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Geoffrey Cox, Chair of the South Yorkshire Climate Alliance.  Mr Cox stated that the petition drew attention to this month being the fourth anniversary of Sheffield City Council declaring a climate emergency.  He stated that this should have been an occasion to celebrate all the progress that had been made – four years of concerted effort on carbon reductions, four years of concerted effort on nature recovery, four years of concerted effort in engaging with the city’s residents on what more needs to be done. Sadly, however, it had been four years where precious little concrete action had been taken.  He commented that a clear agenda had been set out in the Arup Report in early 2021, but was not acted upon directly.  A slim 10-point plan was unveiled 15 months ago, but had still not resulted in a single route map being produced, and no report had yet been produced on the meeting with the city’s voluntary and community groups held at St Mary’s Church a full three months ago.  He stated that there had been plenty of words and promises, but no urgency whatsoever in delivery.




Mr. Cox commented that urgency was what the petition called for.  The petitioners have seen how the city responded to an emergency in the case of the Covid pandemic, and believe that is the scale and pace of the response needed now to achieve the City’s 2030 target – but, unfortunately, they don’t see that urgency at all. 




He added that the petitioners fully recognise that the Government has failed to produce the policies, the infrastructure and the funding needed to allow Sheffield and other councils to properly play their part in the response to the international climate emergency effort – and he reported that the Climate Alliance, along with other climate groups, will be making their voices heard at the national climate demonstration in London in April, on behalf of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, to make that exact point that the Government needs to give local authorities the tools with which to act.




Mr. Cox commented that he also needed to point out that other local authorities facing the same financial difficulties to Sheffield have done more.  On several occasions, the Climate Alliance has drawn the Council’s attention to the studies carried out by Friends of the Earth and by the Ashden Research Group on case studies of what other local authorities have done, showing good practice, and the Alliance again wishes to recommend those studies to the Council.




He concluded his representations by stating that the petition therefore calls on the City Council to accelerate its response to the climate emergency – and that this accelerated response needs to be in the form of concrete actions, not just words.




The petition was referred to Councillor Mazher Iqbal (Co-Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee) to respond.  Councillor Iqbal stated that he absolutely agreed that we must work together as a city to have any chance of achieving the scale and the pace of change that is required to meet the size of the challenge.  He commented that Sheffield’s CVP report, submission and a score of A- for 2022 demonstrates the wide range of mitigations and adaptation actions that the Council is taking in response to the climate emergency declaration




Councillor Iqbal acknowledged the frustrations that many people feel at the slow rate of progress.  He confirmed that the Council was working to produce decarbonisation route maps, covering five themed areas this year and stated that a cross party task group had been established and met two weeks ago to help progress this. The five themed areas this year include Our Council, the Way We Travel, Energy, Business and Industry, and Housing. Councillor Iqbal added, however, that the fact remains that without game changing investment and financial support from central Government, the private sector and other funding sources, the Council’s budget, as acknowledged by Mr. Cox, was totally inadequate to meet the resource for the action that is required.




He reported that the city-wide event held last November demonstrated the extensive support for taking climate action amongst a huge range of city partners, the public, and the private and voluntary sectors and he confirmed that the Council wished to harness that enthusiasm and expertise, and he hoped that all these potential partners would want to be involved in the development and delivery of the route maps for many years.




Councillor Iqbal concluded by expressing his thanks for the reaffirmation of the support of the South Yorkshire Climate Alliance in helping to make these changes happen and stated that he looked forward to continuing to work with the Alliance to address these urgent priorities.




The Council noted the petition and response from Councillor Iqbal.




Petitions Regarding the Proposed Designation within the Draft Sheffield Plan of Certain Sites in Beighton as Travellers and Industrial Sites




The Council received (a) an electronic petition containing 263 signatures, opposing the proposed industrial and traveller sites in the Draft Sheffield Plan, on Eckington Way, (b) an electronic petition containing 654 signatures, opposing the proposed traveller site on Eckington Way, (c) an electronic petition containing 635 signatures, requesting the Council to change the decision to place an industrial site in the Draft Sheffield Plan behind Springwell Grove and (d) an electronic petition containing 2,823 signatures, requesting the Council to remove the proposed travellers site in the Draft Sheffield Plan from Beighton, and relocate it to a more suitable location in the city.




There were no speakers for the petitions referred to in (a) and (b) above, but in relation to the petitions referred to in (c) and (d) above, representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Michael Chilton.




Michael Chilton said he wanted to take this opportunity to address full Council on the concerns around the proposed site off Eckington Way that has been designated for industrial use and a Travellers' site in the Draft Local Plan. He stated that, having spent the time talking to residents in the immediate communities, he knew this was a particularly charged issue, but one that did need to be addressed.  He wished to make it clear, for those persons that may not be familiar with Eckington Way and the surrounding road network, that this issue was primarily about traffic and congestion in the area. Anyone travelling through the area could see this for themselves. He did, however, recognise that some may have misunderstood the intention of the petitions, which was never to indicate that the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities should not have appropriate sites, but to raise concerns about whether this particular site was appropriate and on the lack of consultation surrounding it, both for the GRT community and the wider community.




Mr. Chilton commented that he was sure that everyone recognised that the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities still face discrimination in our society, but that reinforces just why consultation was so important, and we need to make sure we get these decisions right, which he did not believe had happened here.  This was clearly reflected in the Council's own 2019 report that highlighted the Redmires traveller site and the praise it had received from all involved, including the Traveller community, and Mr. Chilton added that the aim should be to repeat that success across the city on similar sites, but that had not happened with this proposal.




He stated that he had spoken to local residents who had told him how simple ten-minute journeys had now become half an hour or more as they tried to negotiate the traffic on and around Eckington Way, often crawling along just to get to the shops. This should not be happening.  He added that the last completed studies into the traffic and air pollution around the area were nearly a decade old and therefore there was a need to recognise that we cannot base current planning developments using out of date data. What he and the thousands of concerned residents who have signed the petitions want to see is new studies undertaken in both these areas and a proper substantial proposal to deal with the traffic problems before this site is earmarked for any kind of development.




In concluding his representations, Mr. Chilton stated that it was disappointing to hear that the three Beighton Councillors did not take the opportunity to object or amend this site last year when they found out about it in July, nor did they take the opportunity to act at the full Council meeting on 14th December, when they had the chance to do so. He added that this whole issue could have been avoided had this happened and we could be focusing on the positives of the Local Plan rather than this site. He hoped that common sense would now prevail and suitable alternatives could be found for this development which would not compound traffic in an area where it was already suffering considerable pressure.




He wished to thank full Council for the opportunity to speak and looked forward to how we can find solutions going forward.




The four petitions were referred to Councillor Mazher Iqbal (Co-Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee) to respond.




Councillor Iqbal said that the Council’s Labour Group believes that, not only as a council but as a city, we should be proud to celebrate the rich histories and diverse culture of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and provide traveller sites in full consultation with those communities.  He then referred to the comments made by the petitioner regarding the Beighton Ward Councillors, and stated that he had seen an email which one of the Ward Councillors had sent to local residents, in which it stated that the local Ward Councillors had not been involved in drawing up the plans regarding the proposed traveller site on Eckington Way, and that it was clear there had been an overall lack of communication and consultation from those who had put the plans together.  Councillor Iqbal firmly believed that to be a misleading statement and very unhelpful.  He reported that a cross party working group had been meeting for the past two years, comprising Councillors from all political groups on the Council, offering the opportunity for everyone to be able to put forward their point of view.  He said that the working group had worked on developing the Plan over the past two years, and that it was this Council that agreed that the Local Plan should go out for consultation and the only amendment proposed by the Liberal Democrat Group was around hot food takeaways.




Councillor Iqbal thanked the petitioners for submitting the petitions.  In relation to the petitions regarding proposed Site Allocation SES03 – land off Eckington Way - in the Draft Sheffield Plan, he reported that the proposal was to allocate 5.35 hectares of the site for Industry and 1.5 hectares as a Traveller Site.  The Draft Plan makes clear that the industrial use would be limited to those uses that can be carried out in a residential area without causing harm to the residential amenity of the area.  He stated that the Plan had not been finalised yet.  Indeed, the consultation period on the Draft Plan would close today (20th February), and the issues raised in the petitions will therefore be taken into account along with other comments submitted as part of the public consultation process.




Councillor Iqbal commented that it was clear there were significant concerns about the impact this proposal would have on already high traffic levels and congestion in the area, and he reported that further transport modelling work was being undertaken to look at the impact on traffic levels and to assess whether any adverse impacts can be adequately mitigated.




He also noted the concern of residents of Springwell Grove about the potential for any new industrial buildings to overshadow their homes.  He stated that, at this stage, it was worth highlighting to the petitioners that matters such as design, landscaping and site access would be matters to be considered as part of any subsequent planning application, but that any planning application would only follow if the allocation is confirmed in the final adopted Plan.  Officers do, however, advise that a significant environmental buffer strip would be needed as part of a detailed design to separate the housing from the proposed uses.




He wished to also emphasise that the Council has a legal duty to meet the housing needs of Gypsies and Travellers.  The Plan must provide enough land to meet future employment needs. He stated that all the issues will be reappraised in light of the consultation comments and any new evidence, and he added that an alternative site (or sites) would need to be provided if the proposed site SES03 was to be removed.




Councillor Iqbal confirmed that following the completion of the public consultation exercise on the Draft Sheffield Plan, officers will review all the comments that have been made (including the petitions) and will advise Members on whether any amendments to the Plan should be proposed.  Any amendments would be submitted to the Government alongside the Draft Sheffield Plan.  He stated that he would be happy to visit the site and meet with the petitioners following the conclusion of the public consultation exercise.




He concluded his response by stating that any proposed amendments would be considered by the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee, taking into account recommendations to be made by the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee, and that the final decision would be taken by full Council.  Prior to then, the cross party working group will start to meet regularly again, starting in early March, to consider the issues highlighted from the consultation and to develop recommendations for consideration by the Policy Committees.




The Council noted the four petitions and response from Councillor Iqbal.




Public Questions




Question From Paul Wade




Paul Wade stated that his question related to safety in the pedestrianised areas of Fargate and The Moor, commenting that he had observed cyclists riding through those areas at great speed, which represented a safety risk, particularly for young children and the elderly, and he asked when will the Council promote the safety of pedestrians in these areas by introducing measures to stop cyclists travelling at speed in those locations?




In response, Councillor Joe Otten (Chair of the Waste and Streetscene Policy Committee) stated that it wasn’t clear from the content of the written question submitted by Mr. Wade that his safety concerns related to cyclists, and instead he had prepared a response relating to hostile vehicle mitigations and the measures put around the city to prevent terrorist attacks using vehicles within pedestrian areas.  He would therefore arrange for a response to Mr. Wade’s question to be provided to him in writing and published on the Council’s website.




Question From Abdul Raheem




Abdul Raheem referred to the Council’s proposals in relation to its introduction of a clean air zone in Sheffield, and asked why the Council was not being considerate to the struggles of working-class people. He stated that Rotherham Council’s proposals differed from Sheffield Council’s proposals and a non-compliant vehicle would not be charged for being driven in Rotherham but would be charged for being driven in Sheffield.  He added that the Government allowed local authorities to choose the type of clean air zone to be introduced and he queried why Sheffield City Council had chosen to target working-class people already struggling from the impact of the covid pandemic.




Mr. Raheem also referred to the situation regarding the licensing of Hackney Carriages and asked that the Council seek evidence from vehicle dealerships, as there was currently a shortage in vehicle availability due to supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic which was impacting on the manufacturing industry, and he expressed concern that numbers of Hackney Carriage vehicles operating in the city would reduce significantly as a result of this.  He suggested that the Council should follow the example in Leeds and Bradford where saloon cars were being allowed to operate as Hackney Carriages, and which would assist Sheffield’s taxi drivers to continue to work and support their families.  He commented that the clean air zone charges would mean an additional cost of £3,600 per annum, which he could not afford, especially in view of the current cost of living crisis where the cost of energy, mortgages and food were becoming more expensive.




Mr. Raheem concluded by asking the Council to be considerate to its working class citizens, and he expressed concern that the clean air zone charges would further impact on the future viability of the city centre.




In response, Councillor Joe Otten (Chair of the Waste and Streetscene Policy Committee) stated that the questions regarding the clean air zone would need to be answered by the Co-Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee, but he would answer the questions regarding taxis.  He stated that he recognised the concerns raised over the cost of hackney carriages and that the taxi trade had made this clear to the Waste and Streetscene Policy Committee. In response, the Policy Committee, at its meeting on 15th February, had revised the Council’s Hackney Carriage Vehicle Policy  to allow for rear loading vehicles to be used, which were substantially cheaper, and to extend the age of vehicles from first registration, from five years to seven and a half years.  It was expected that those two changes combined would substantially increase the range of vehicles that Hackney Carriage drivers would be able to buy and use that would be of Euro 6 standard and be able to be operated in the clean air zone without incurring charges.




Councillor Otten also recognised the danger, as pointed out by Mr. Raheem, that if large numbers of Hackney Carriage vehicles were not replaced, with drivers not willing to pay the charges, a significant loss of the fleet may result, and he commented that the Council had agreed to introduce a clean air zone scheme that did not include private vehicles but would include taxis, light-goods vehicles and buses, and he did wonder in hindsight whether this placed a particularly high burden on just a relatively few vehicles to achieve the clean air targets that the city needed to achieve.




Councillor Mazher Iqbal (Co-Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee) added that the Government had been successfully taken to Court on three occasions by Client Earth, an international environmental campaign group, seeking clean air improvements in the UK and, in response to the Court’s rulings, the Government had hurriedly issued a policy without consulting local authorities.  This had led to different options being taken by individual local authorities.  He commented that Sheffield City Council had decided to choose an option which would not charge private vehicles and motorbikes.  Councillor Iqbal reported that the exemption of private vehicles had been referenced by the Green Group within one of its amendments proposed at today’s meeting, and he commented that if anyone were to ask any local authority around the country, it would be clear that the amount of financial support provided by the Government to local councils to implement clean air zones, was inadequate.  He added that, if the financial support was adequate, the Waste and Streetscene Policy Committee may not have needed to meet last week to consider how the Hackney Carriage Vehicle Policy could be revised in order to help address the needs of taxi drivers.




Councillor Iqbal reported that the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee had established a cross-party group of Members to meet on a weekly basis to consider issues that were emerging in relation to the clean air zone, such as the ones mentioned by Mr. Raheem, and he confirmed that one of the major issues was not only the affordability, but also the lack of availability, of new hackney carriage vehicles, and he confirmed that there was now a watching brief by Councillors on this matter. 




Councillor Iqbal added that there was a public health emergency, with poor air quality levels across the city, and air pollution exceeding Government limits, and the introduction of the clean air zone would be the quickest way to reduce those harmful levels. He stated that the Labour Group on the City Council had been lobbying the Government, asking it to improve the financial support it was making available, in order to assist the self-employed and small businesses across the city who were having to find additional resources at a time when the cost of living was also increasing significantly.




He concluded his response by indicating that information was available on the Council’s website in relation to the clean air zone and the support that was available.




Question From Julie Pearn




Prior to inviting Julie Pearn to ask her question, the Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) invited the Interim Director of Legal and Governance to speak, and he advised the questioner that some of the preamble to the written question submitted by Ms. Pearn raises issues which were, arguably, contrary to the Council’s adopted definition of antisemitism and he suggested that Ms. Pearn should therefore limit her contribution to just asking her question.




Julie Pearn commented that Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine welcome the twinning agreement recently signed between Sheffield City Council and the Ukrainian city of Khmelnytskyi, and fully supports the City Council showing this stand for international law and degree of empathy and international solidarity to a people who are victims of military aggression and invasion, resulting in creation of refugees, assaults on children, etc.  She stated that the same level of empathy should be extended to other victims of military aggression, invasion, bombing and ethnic cleansing, and wished to remind the Council that an invitation to twin was made by the Mayor of Nablus in April 2019 and that the Council has not even acknowledged that invitation.




She asked can we please have advice from the Council as to how we may get a reciprocal response from the City to the Mayor of Nablus’ invitation and achieve a twinning relationship, an aim which is supported by individuals and organisations all over Sheffield?




In response, the Leader of the Council (Councillor Terry Fox) referred to PalFest Sheffield, a festival of friendship and solidarity with Palestine which had taken place a couple of years ago and which had celebrated the rich and diverse culture of the region. He commented that he hadn’t been aware of the offer from the Mayor of Nablus, but that, when he was looking at the invitation received from Khmelnytskyi, it had become evident that the Council had no clear policy regarding town twinning, and this was something that was now being addressed.  He reported that during the time he had been Leader of the Council, there had been a number of offers received for town twinning which he had wanted to be considered under a proper process, which allowed for input from all Members of the Council.  He stated that a clear policy was now emerging and would be submitted to the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee for approval within the next few months. Councillor Fox said that out of common decency, he would make sure that a response would be sent to the Mayor of Nablus, and he stated that he welcomed the Mayor’s offer.




The Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) added that the Reverend Hugh Thomas had contacted her after the city had twinned with Khmelnytskyi, saying that he could remember the Nablus offer being submitted and had sent her the information about it, which she believed was when former Councillor Magid Magid was Lord Mayor of Sheffield, but that it appeared that no action had been taken at that time.




(NOTES: 1. The questions which had been submitted by Carrie Hedderwick and Ruth Hubbard, but which had not been asked at the meeting due to their absence, would receive a written response from the Chairs of the relevant Policy Committees and be published on the website; and


2. Two of the three questions relating to the deployment of wireless masts for 5G use in Sheffield, which had been submitted by Michael Mullin, but which had not been asked at the meeting due to his absence, would receive a written response from the Chair of the relevant Policy Committee and be published on the website.  The other question, which related directly to a named officer of the Council, was not accepted by the Lord Mayor as she deemed it to be disrespectful to that named officer.)




Supporting documents: