Sheffield City Council’s 28 wards are divided into 7 Community Assemblies (4 wards per assembly) which “aim to bring decision-making closer to local people”. Each assembly has a budget to spend on local projects and things like road improvements. The decisions of the assemblies are made by the 12 Councillors from its constituent wards based on reports drawn up by Council Officers and submissions made by the public.
The Labour administration in Sheffield are considering the future of community assemblies, however to the best of our knowledge there has never been a thorough review of the function and effectiveness of Community Assemblies.
We believe no decision can legitimately be made about their future without such a review and consulting the people of Sheffield – the people whom the assemblies are meant to serve.
We have launched an online survey to find out what you think about the Assemblies so that we can put a proposal about the future of Community Assemblies to Sheffield City Council to make sure that local people have a proper say in any changes. To complete the survey please select the link below.
The following is a copy of our letter to the Sheffield Telegraph regarding the future of Sheffield’s seven Community Assemblies.
In the light of renewed interest in local democracy, and communities wishing to have their say, we want to know what will happen to community involvement and participation in Sheffield. Bringing decision making closer to neighbourhoods is a good way to tackle political apathy.
In the past Labour set up Area Panels, and the Liberal Democrats set up Community Assemblies. Both models have advantages as well as disadvantages; the Area Panels were for consultation, the Assemblies for local decision making including on some local budgets. We understand the future of the Community Assemblies is now under consideration
The following is a copy of our letter to Councillor Ms Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, regarding the future of Sheffield’s seven Community Assemblies. Copies were also sent to Councillors Mick Rooney (Labour), Shaffaq Mohammed (Liberal Democrats) and Jillian Creasy (Green Party).
Dear Councillor Dore,
We understand that the future of Community Assemblies is under consideration.
I am enclosing a summary of comments from our supporters who have had experience of the work of the Assemblies: it is based on the experience of 5 out of the 7 Assemblies, and represents views from across the political spectrum. You will see that they make two points very strongly: first that the future of the Community Assemblies should not become a political football between the two main parties; second, that any proposals for change should seek to develop the good intentions of both main parties to involve local communities in decision making (albeit using different models) and should protect the positive aspects of networking and close working that is developing in some areas.
Sheffield for Democracy has today published a report on its supporters’ experiences with the seven Community Assemblies in Sheffield. This report has been drawn up in parallel with an ongoing public consultation it is holding about the wider Sheffield public’s experiences and comes as Sheffield for Democracy have issued open letters to leaders of the political parties on Sheffield City Council.
The key message of this report is that people do not want the future of Community Assemblies to become a political football between the two main parties.
The current Community Assemblies should be seen as a starting point for discussion, with room for development and change, and not things as they are being defended at all costs. No one who had experience of the Assemblies felt that they should be disbanded. Several supporters believe that it would be a great loss if the Assemblies were disbanded or curtailed to the point where Council business was merely reported rather than discussed.