Voters will decide on city supremo proposals

libsram'Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed 'Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, cabinet member for the environment, is responsible for keeping Sheffield a green city.
libsram'Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed 'Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, cabinet member for the environment, is responsible for keeping Sheffield a green city.
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Controversial government plans to force Sheffield council to appoint a ‘shadow mayor’ in advance of a referendum on the issue have been dropped.

Voters will still have to decide next May whether Sheffield should have a powerful executive mayor, similar to the system in place in Doncaster.

If the city is in favour, mayoral elections will take place in May 2013.

But proposals to appoint a shadow mayor who would be in post until May 2012 have been deleted from the Localism Bill, currently going through Parliament.

The move would have affected Sheffield and the 10 other largest cities in England.

Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said he was pleased at the climbdown.

“Just last week I met personally with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and we have been lobbying hard on this issue for sometime now,” he said.

“Local people will welcome that this important concession has been won through Liberal Democrat influence within the Government.

“We have always argued that Sheffielders should have their say and I’m glad to see that will now happen before any mayor is installed. Liberal Democrats will be arguing against the idea but in the end it will be local people who decide.”

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, the shadow local government secretary, added: “This is a victory for Labour’s campaign against the Tory-led Government’s undemocratic and costly plans to impose shadow mayors on England’s largest cities and their half-baked idea of combining the roles of mayor and chief executive.

“Following his climbdown on bin collections a few days ago, this is the second major personal humiliation for Eric Pickles in the space of a week.”

A shadow mayor would have merged the role of council leader with that of chief executive.