SCC Governance Referendum header

Sheffield City Council Governance Referendum

Following a Government announcement, the Governance Referendum has been postponed until 2021. We'll update this page with information as soon as we have it, but in the meantime you may still like details about how decisions are made about local services and what the proposed options are.  It’s important to understand this because the Council makes decisions about things that people use every day - from bins to keeping children safe, parks to housing and community safety to Public Health.

When the Governance Referendum goes ahead, there will be two choices...

The question you will be asked on the ballot paper is:

How would you like Sheffield City Council to be run?

By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.
By one or more committees made up of elected councillors. This would be a change from how the council is run now.

Leader and Cabinet model schematic

Leader and Cabinet model

All 84 of Sheffield’s councillors elect a Leader who appoints a Cabinet made up of up to nine other councillors.  Each Cabinet Members has an area that they’re accountable for (e.g. housing, adult social care).  The Leader and Cabinet collectively make decisions on important issues and are held accountable for those decisions by other councillors through the overview and scrutiny process.  Some decisions are made by individual Cabinet Members and can still be looked through the overview and scrutiny process.

This is how the Council currently runs, although it’s been agreed that some changes will happen if this option chosen in the referendum.  The most important change is that all major proposals would be looked at by a new cross-party group of councillors before Cabinet makes a decision on them.  This cross-party group could recommend changes to proposals before final decisions are made and Councillors can also review decisions after they’ve been made.  

This is an enhanced version of how the council is run now.

Committee System model schematic

Committee model

Most decisions are taken by groups of councillors drawn from all of the political parties on the council (committees).  Each committee is politically proportionate – this means that the largest party on the council will have the most councillors in each committee.  There could be up to ten committees, including an overarching one, which would look at the most important decisions.

Committees will be thematic, so can make decisions on particular topics (e.g. housing, children’s social care). Major decisions will be taken by a different cross-party committee which includes all the chairs of the thematic committees.  Individual councillors are not allowed to make decisions - all have to be considered at a meeting of a committee.  There’s no requirement for an overview and scrutiny process, although there would be a process for decisions to be reviewed.  

This would be different to how the council is currently run. 

We know these governance models are quite complex and you may want more details on them, so we’ve put some extra information in a pdf if you want to read more.  We also understand that the possible costs of the proposed models is information you may want as well, so we’ve added a pdf that explains this too.



Some of the ways in which the council works will be similar regardless of which option is chosen in the Governance Referendum….

Working with communities

Working with communities

Councillors have pledged that the way in which we engage with local communities and neighbourhoods will be enhanced.

Full council

Full Council (monthly meeting of all 84 councillors)

Full Council would continue as a forum for debate and discussion about important topics, and a place where the public can bring petitions and ask questions. 
Under the Leader and Cabinet model, Full Council would be responsible for choosing the Leader.  
Under the Committee model, Full Council would be responsible for appointing councillors and chairs to individual committees.

Planning and licensing decisions

Planning and licensing decisions

Under both models no changes would be made to the way planning and licensing decisions are taken – these would continue to be made by cross-party committees of councillors.

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The Governance Referendum will take place alongside the local and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.  Make sure you're registered to vote - you can vote in person at a polling station, or apply for a postal vote.