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Sheffield Council leader to step down in December

Julie Dore has announced she will step down as the leader of Sheffield City Council and its ruling Labour group ahead of local elections in May.

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Cllr Julie Dore.

Sheffield City Council.

The leader of Sheffield City Council has announced that she will step down in December after nine years in the job.

Cllr Julie Dore originally planned to retire from the Council in May, but stayed on as leader after local elections were postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.

Councillors in the ruling Labour group will elect her replacement on 7 December ahead of next year's election.

“When I announced in January that I would not be seeking re-election in May, no one could have predicted the events that were about to unfold over the coming months," said Cllr Dore in a statement.

"When the Covid crisis hit in March and the local elections were cancelled I thought that it was the only right and responsible thing to do to stay on to help navigate Sheffield through the crisis."

Dore has came under intense criticism over recent years for her handling of the street tree controversy.

Labour inherited the Streets Ahead contract from the previous Lib Dem administration, a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) that campaigners say incentivised the removal of healthy street trees.

A report by the Local Government Ombudsmen found that "the council did not, at times, act with openness and transparency when removing trees across Sheffield, and when dealing with people’s complaints about that work."

Despite her premiership being dominated by street trees, Dore has also won praise for taking Council services back in-house and the success of regeneration projects like Grey To Green.

It is likely that the election of her successor will be a competition between two political camps within the Labour group.

Dore, her deputy Terry Fox and the rest of her cabinet are understood to represent a centre-left group among Sheffield's Labour councillors.

Another group, who are understood to back a more radical approach, are centred around former Deputy Leader and now MP for Sheffield Hallam Olivia Blake.

Blake was one of six councillors to resign from the cabinet in August 2019 in support of the It's Our City campaign, which aims to change the way the Council is run.

In May, as well as electing new councillors Sheffield residents will vote in a referendum on whether to change the Council's model to a more decentralised 'committee system'.

During her tenure Dore has become synonymous with the existing 'strong leader' model, which centres power on the Council Leader and cabinet.

"I have always said that for me Sheffield is the best place in the world, I have lived here all my life, raised my family here and there is nowhere else I would ever want to live," said Cllr Dore.

"I would like to thank everyone who I have worked with in this time, it is the people of Sheffield who make this city what it is and it has been a privilege to serve them.”

Cllr Dore will continue to represent the Park and Arbourthorne ward, where she was first elected as a councillor in 2000, until her term expires in May 2021.

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