Residents of Sheffield will be able to have greater influence in local area decision making following the councils devolution proposals on Wednesday.
The proposals entail the establishment of seven local area committees(LAC) in May 2021, led by a local councillor, who will work with citizens to create plans for local areas including public services, communities and businesses.
The council have pledged that from May further responsibilities will be devolved such as democratic accountability of local councillors and management of budget.
Cllr Dawn Shaw Wednesdays cabinet meeting “The people of Sheffield have told us that they want more control and influence over the decisions and issues that really matter to their local area. The New Local Area committees represent a shift of power in Sheffield putting local communities in charge of decisions and budgets for key local services.”
Cllr Bob Johnson added: “These committees have been intentionally designed to fulfil the minimum legal requirement for the establishment of local decision making, and that has been deliberate in order to empower local communities.”
Not all councillors supported the proposals however.
Cllr Ian Auckland said of the proposals : “Some of the language I find a little troubling because there is talk of overseeing of officers. What we and the Liberal Democrats wish to see is local community assemblies controlling the work of officers, controlling budgets and their own priorities.”
Cllr Alison Teal added ” We cannot support your proposals because you have entirely failed to consult which means you have failed to engage. You have disabled non Labour councillors and residents from having any input and you disempowered us and the community by taking this top down approach.”
The devolution measures were formulated following the councils 2019 ‘Big City Conversation’ in which out of 4,000 residents only a third thought they could influence local decision making while 56% said they would get involved depending on the issue.
The councils rolling program of devolution states that the local area committees will be 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.
The council estimates the financial implications of the devolution proposals include £65,439 to create the local area committee framework/structure in addition to a further £536,285 and £618,000 for the transformation element and the administration and running costs respectively.