Dear Mr Fyffe
We were disturbed to see the misinformation and inaccuracies in the January 2019 Labour Party newsletter in relation to the petition for a change of governance arrangements.
In particular, we were concerned to see It’s Our City! and the campaign for change of governance described as a ‘Green Party initiative’.
We are, of course, aware that some individuals have attempted to portray It’s Our City! as party politically linked, perhaps for their own party (or personal career) ends.
We had thought these issues of misrepresentation had subsided. But we certainly do not expect to see them re-worked and circulated in Labour Party newsletters.
We are writing to you as we have been informed it is you who puts the newsletter together.
As we believe is known, It’s Our City! is is an explicitly non-party community network. Full information is published on our website www.itsoursheffield.co.uk
Our constitution expressly limits the proportion of (any) party members that can be members of It’s Our City! and/or that can sit on our elected Coordinating Group.
This is to protect It’s Our City! as a community, not party, led network ie precisely to ensure that it cannot be used as a vehicle for any particular party interests.
Whilst the overwhelming majority of those involved are not members of any political party there are, in fact, many Labour Party members and supporters involved in It’s Our City! actively campaigning for governance changes via Sheffield People’s Petition.
Indeed, it is unsurprising that we involve many LP supporters (and even more who have signed the petition) given our commitment to communities working together, inclusion, and democracy.
We would also point out that under the Localism Act 2011 (which enshrines community rights about local governance changes) we understand it is illegal for Councils to devote resources in relation to shaping the outcome of community action for a change of governance.
A Sheffield Labour Party newsletter circulating the piece you did (and perhaps even more so as this appears to be put together by Council officers) might potentially be acting outside the spirit or letter of the legislation.
We do not appreciate the clear misreporting in the newsletter. We ask for an immediate apology and corrections, to be circulated to all those who have received the newsletter. (Of course, we were informed about the newsletter by Labour Party supporters receiving it, who are also It’s Our City! supporters.).
We are certainly happy to liaise over this and also the other inaccuracies eg about the timing of presentation of the petition which falls in August 2019.
In addition, we would like to offer a short news piece for the next newsletter given the overlaps and shared interests between Labour Party member concerns and commitments (for example in attempts and achievements in democratising its own party processes), and It’s Our City! as a community campaigning network.
We look forward to your assurances on the above points, and thank you
Co-Chairs, It’s Our City!