COUNCILLORS in Sheffield are urging the Government to foot the bill for a referendum next May on a directly elected mayor.
Opposition Liberal Democrats say the cost could be as high as £245,000 and believe Communities and that Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles MP should pay, not local taxpayers.
No political group on the council supports directly elected mayors but the authority is being told by the Government to hold a referendum on the principle. If the vote is in favour, elections will be held the following year.
Lib Dem council group leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: “As the only person who seems to want a directly elected mayor referendum in Sheffield is Eric Pickles, then we believe his Government department should be the ones picking up the bill.”
The Liberal Democrats have put a motion to Wednesday’s meeting of the full council.
Ruling Labour council leader Coun Julie Dore put the cost of a referendum at £100,000.
She said: “Because it looks like the Government will force us to do this, we would expect that the Government would fund the cost of holding both the referendum and a subsequent election if the people of Sheffield vote in favour.”
Coun Dore said the people of Sheffield “have not shown an appetite” for an elected mayor in public consultation carried out by the previous Lib Dem administration.
“Even if the funding does not come out of the council’s budget, the public will still be paying the bill from their taxes,” she added.