The government has announced that local elections will not take place on May 7th, they will be postponed for a year. At the moment, whilst we assume a delay, the full implications are unclear for Sheffield People’s Referendum that was due to take place the same day.
These are clearly exceptional circumstances and it appears postponement of the referendum involves untested parts and/or gaps in what is complex legislation and regulations. We understand the person who exercises the public administration function in relation to council governance change is the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Robert Jenrick). This is somewhat separate from arrangements for local elections. In the current circumstances we think there is a probable requirement for specific legislation to be issued by the Secretary of State about Sheffield and our referendum.
SCC and relevant national bodies who have been in touch with us are also unsure of full implications at this point. We await the legal view of SCC and have been assured they will keep us informed. The Coordinating Group is also seeking our own legal advice as to the arrangements and procedures that (might) apply in current circumstances. We do anticipate that we will need to contact the Secretary of State in order to raise the community issues involved in relation to a delay. We will post information as we get it, and welcome comment. Thank you to all those across Sheffield who were working hard towards May 7th and getting information out across the city. We are now advising at least a temporary pause to direct campaigning work while we actively pursue clarifications.
Sheffield needs democratic local governance under a modern committee system – not an undemocratic ‘strong leader’ system. Across Sheffield, we know communities of all kinds, different organisations, and all/cross party political groupings are as committed as ever to addressing the massive democratic deficit in our city and to achieving change. This will happen.
For now, we want to wish all Sheffielders the very best as we face what are going to be significant challenges with the spread of coronavirus – please do take good care of yourself and those in your communities.
It’s Our City! Coordinating Group