Sheffield Liberal Democrats stepped in to ensure members of the public could still exercise their democratic right to ask questions of those in power as Labour and Green councillors refuse to do their job.
Empty Labour and Green seats at the Octagon Centre yesterday
Sheffield’s December Full Council meeting was held at the Octagon Centre. There was a UCU strike outside, which had been announced before the venue was booked. Labour and Green councillors did not cross the picket to take part in the Council meeting.
Full Council meetings are vital meetings where the city’s issues are debated and opposition councillors and members of the public can ask questions of the Labour/Green coalition in charge of Sheffield. To enable democracy to continue in Sheffield, the Lib Dems continued with the meeting despite the ruling Labour/Green coalition deciding not to attend.
Sheffield Lib Dem Leader Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed said, “This month we had a petition to improve road safety after an 8 year old was knocked down. We had questions about homelessness. We had debates about our NHS and social care. And we had a debate about improving buses. Where were the Labour and Green councillors while this took place? No where to be seen.
“While the Labour and Green councillors might not take their responsibility seriously, we Lib Dems certainly do. We pushed ahead to make sure the public still had their right to question the council.
“We also pushed ahead with the important debate on improving our buses. Recent cuts have further decimated our public transport. The Lib Dems passed a motion to withdraw from the current ‘Bus Partnership’ with the companies and move towards contracts to give residents more say over bus routes, fares, and timetables.
“While Labour and the Greens posed for photos, we got on with the business of the city.”
Deputy Lib Dem Leader Cllr Penny Baker said, “Not only is choosing to miss this meeting a lack of respect to the public’s democratic right, it’s also a real waste of taxpayer money.
“These meetings outside the Town Hall are costing taxpayers thousands and thousands of pounds every month. My Lib Dem colleagues and I have proposed ways to move meetings back to the Town Hall in a Covid safe way to save that money.
“We’re going to request an urgent review of council meetings to make sure nothing like this happens again.”