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A Big City Conversation: The Council wants to hear from you

by Now Then Sheffield
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A Big City Conversation is happening and everyone in Sheffield can and should be involved.

This conversation represents an unprecedented opportunity to talk about our city's democracy, how decisions are made and most importantly, how the voices of Sheffielders make and shape those decisions.

It's an opportunity to develop a model of democratic, accountable decision-making and public engagement that is designed in and works for Sheffield and its people.

A petition by It's Our City triggered a referendum which will be held on 7 May 2020 so that Sheffielders can choose how the city council makes decisions.

The petition was signed by 5% of the electorate in Sheffield but the Council wants to hear the views and voices of the 95% who haven't yet had their say.

Ahead of the referendum, the Council will set out two options: The Strong Leader & Cabinet Model, and a Committee System - which people will choose from in the referendum. This information will be published by 11 March 2020 so that everyone has time to think about the options before the referendum.

The Council's cross-party Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee have been looking at what works best elsewhere and have been hearing from national and local experts on the key principles, cultures and behaviours that should shape the decision-making models proposed for Sheffield.

The Committee will report to Full Council in January 2020. You can read more about that here.

But the Big City Conversation is about more than decision-making. It's about what matters to Sheffielders in neighbourhoods and places across the city; how people hold the city council and other public services to account; how people talk to the council about the issues that matter to them; and how people want to get involved in their local communities.

It also opens up a deeper conversation around how people might get involved in democracy in their neighbourhoods. The Big City Conversation is actively seeking a wide range of views about how this might be done differently. Would you want to take part in discussion forums to debate and try to reach consensus on a particular topic or theme that was affecting your area? Would you want to help set the ambitions for your neighbourhood and help make choices about what should be prioritised? Would you want to influence or help determine the way local budgets were spent? What role could networks of people with shared interests or identities have within this, alongside neighbourhood level working? The Big City Conversation is welcoming input and views on these sorts of questions, and other related ideas, over the next couple of months from anyone who lives in the city.

The Big City Conversation began with events in the Moor Market, on the Supertram, and with a simple online survey. So far, more than 1,500 people have given their feedback from right across the city.

The General Election has meant that the Council has had to press pause on community-based activities and events for now but after 12 December and going into the new year, they'll be out in every part of Sheffield, talking to as many people as possible.

You can find out more and get involved here.

by Now Then Sheffield

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