The following pledges were developed for the Local Elections 2018 in community conversations:
PLEDGE 1: I will actively support a refreshed Committee-type system that allows proper public scrutiny and consideration of evidence, and an active, meaningful and valued role for all elected Councillors in Sheffield. Practices such as un-minuted meetings must cease. I will actively promote changes in governance arrangements to open up local democracy, and improve the Council’s transparency, and accountability to the people of Sheffield.
Have you voted for a City Councillor who is not allowed to have a voice? Did you know that only ten City Councillors (The Council Cabinet) make all the important decisions in Sheffield? Most of the other 74 Councillors have to vote as the ‘Cabinet of Ten’ tells them! Did you know that some meetings about important Council business are allowed to be un-minuted? (That is, nothing has to be written down, and no-one can find out how or why important decisions were made) Sheffield Council used to be run by a ‘Committee’ (not Cabinet) system, giving more Councillors the opportunity to get a grasp of the issues in front of them, and to vote accordingly. All meetings were recorded.
PLEDGE 2: I will actively listen to the people of Sheffield, with care and respect at all times. I will act in residents’ interests first, not those of my political party (or the Council Cabinet). I will not support misrepresentation of resident views. I will support genuine consultation and involvement. I will work to build trust and ‘reconnect’ the Council and those it serves.
It’s Our City has a long list of Sheffield individuals, groups and community organisations who have been openly ignored by the Council. Time and again local experience and views have not been listened to, or have been dismissed. Local ideas and enthusiasm has been allowed to wither. Statistics have been ‘massaged’ to support the Council Cabinet’s agenda.
PLEDGE 3: I will work to make the Council more genuinely collaborative and competent. I aim to promote and assist work that builds on the strengths (and heritage) of Sheffield, connecting local talent, expertise and dynamism with funding opportunities and other resources. I will involve local groups, organisations, business and other stakeholders in building sustainable and resilient communities.
Significant amounts of money have been turned away from the city because local businesses, charities and community groups (and their ideas and expertise) have not been valued and supported in a competent or timely manner by the current Council.
PLEDGE 4: I will argue for, and work to, an end to the ‘Streets Ahead’ contract. The problems of the contract need to be more open to public scrutiny. It is an expensive embarrassment that is damaging our city. I will consistently seek to protect and prioritise the interests of the people of Sheffield (and our environment and city heritage), before those of private profiteers.
The secret ‘Streets Ahead’ PFI contract must be brought to an end – this will need commitment and ingenuity but it can be done, as other cities have shown. The privatisation of our streets put large profits in the hands of international corporate shareholders. The asset-stripping of our healthy street trees is damaging the health and well-being of residents and the environment, as well as the reputation of Sheffield. The new pavements and roads are of poor quality, and are not worth the money we are spending on them (and will be spending for decades to come). Soon we will be ‘Pothole City’ all over again.
PLEDGE 5: I confirm my commitment to the seven Nolan Principles. I want to see all Councillors and Council Officers in Sheffield exhibiting these qualities and acknowledge these have not been enough in evidence.
The ‘Nolan Principles’ are a code of ethical standards. They apply to all public office-holders. There are seven Nolan principles: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Does that sound like any of the City Councillors you know about? We want to see a return to the ethical standards that our public servants agreed to when they took office.