Sheffield democracy campaigners welcome changes to 'damaging' council website information
Sheffield Council has changed information on its website and to literature it will send to every household about the upcoming city-wide referendum - following objections from campaigners.
It’s Our City secured 26,000 signatures to force the council to hold a referendum on how the authority is run, but the 2020 vote was delayed due to Covid-19. It is now set to take place on May 6, alongside local elections.
Campaigners say they complained a year ago that information about the referendum on the council’s website, relating to costs and the choice between the current strong leader model and a proposed committee system, would in their view have ‘seriously misled citizens and communities.’
It’s Our City today welcomed the ‘very significant improvements’ but said the original information would have had a ‘damaging’ impact. A statement added: “For us it is disappointing and dispiriting that the original council-published information was written in the way it was and was visible on the website over such a long period. However, we do thank officers who, even at this late stage (and under new Chief Executive leadership) have at last responded by doing the right thing.”The council said it sought advice from the Local Government Association, and that advice did not say the original information was misleading.Kate Josephs, chief executive, added: “It’s important people are crystal clear what the options are in the Governance Referendum and how each system would work. We commissioned independent advice, and made some suggested changes to make the information even clearer.
"We are confident people will be able to make an informed choice.”