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Council deputy leader resigns: Olivia Blake backs Council governance referendum

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Olivia Blake, former Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council and Labour candidate for Sheffield Hallam

The deputy leader of Sheffield City Council has resigned and backed the It's Our City! campaign.

The movement to hold a referendum on city governance handed in their petition today at Town Hall. The group collected over 26,000 signatures in a year, triggering a mandatory city-wide referendum.

Blake's surprise resignation will be seen as a major blow for Council Leader Julie Dore.

"I will make further statements in the coming days about the role I intend to play in the upcoming referendum," Blake told Local Democracy Reporter Lucy Ashton.

Blake will stay on as a Labour councillor in Walkley, but has resigned from the cabinet.

She will also contest the Sheffield Hallam parliamentary seat for Labour when Jared O'Mara steps down, which he has pledged to do in September.

In the run-up to the by-election, Blake's resignation will put some distance between herself and the long-running row over street trees.

In an unconnected development, O'Mara was reportedly arrested last week on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and released pending further investigation.

The governance referendum is likely to be held on the same day as the local election in May 2020. It will ask Sheffield voters whether they want to switch from the current 'strong leader' model to a modern committee system.

Campaigners say that a committee system would give more councillors a say in decision-making.

Blake's husband, Lewis Dagnall, remains in the cabinet, with responsibility for Environment, Streetscene & Climate Change.

Sam Gregory

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