Should Sheffield have an elected mayor?
Kevin Meagher, chairman of Sheffield Irish Community and who stood for selection as a Labour Parliamentary candidate, is heading the movement.
He said a poll carried out in Sheffield on behalf of the BBC showed 49 per cent of people questioned supported a mayor while 38 per cent were against.
Mr Meagher said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernise how we run our city. The world has changed but we are still running Sheffield like we did in the 19th century.
“We need a powerful mayor with the clout to bring jobs and investment to Sheffield and help us compete nationally and internationally.
“If we stay with the status quo we will end up in the slow lane in terms of investment and influence as other cities which do opt for a mayor sail past us. It’s that straight-forward.”
Mr Meagher said that if other major cities across England vote for mayors, Sheffield could be left lagging behind in terms of lobbying for the city’s interests on a national stage.
He said a city mayor could ‘grow organically’ to become a city region mayor if residents in surrounding towns were in favour.
Mr Meagher, a member of the GMB and Unison trade unions, also rejected claims by fellow trade unionists who are against the change that a mayor’s office could cost up to £400,000 a year in extra administration.
The yes-campaign is also backed by Conservative members in Sheffield.
Anne Smith, standing in Dore and Totley for the Tories in the city council elections on May 3, said: “It would put power to hire and fire the top man or woman at the Town Hall directly into the hands of the people for the first time.”
And fellow Conservative Matt Dixon, a former city councillor and parish councillor for Oughtibridge, said: “A directly-elected mayor will be far more accountable to the people of Sheffield.
“There is too much passing the buck.”
Meanwhile, MP John Healey rejected claims he may quit his Wentworth and Dearne seat to stand for mayor of Sheffield if the city votes yes.
He said: “I’m not interested.”
■ Sheffield’s ‘no’ to elected mayors campaign launches today outside Sheffield Town Hall at 12.15pm.